This State team could be one to

By Staff
Austin Bishop / EMG Sports Director
Dec. 29, 2002
Searching the sports scene on a Sunday while wondering whatever happened to Rich Knarr …
So, just how good is the Mississippi State men's basketball team?
Me thinks pretty good.
The Bulldogs play a tough brand of defense and have plenty of ways to score as well. They showed that in Sunday's 54-45 win over No. 5 ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans.
A lot of folks were agitated that MSU star post player Mario Austin had to sit out six games while the NCAA twittled its thumbs earlier this year, but in the long run that time off could make a big difference.
To begin with, Austin will be a little more rested down the stretch. But more importantly, several players got some key playing time while Austin was biding his time in street clothes, which built MSU's inside depth.
That could be a huge plus.
Of course, the negative is that State lost it's season opener to Louisiana-Lafayette, but eight wins later that doesn't seem like that big of a deal.
The Bulldogs make an Alabama swing next week, traveling to Mobile to take on South Alabama on Monday, then visiting Alabama-Birmingham on Thursday.
After that it is 16 consecutive regular season SEC games, beginning with a matchup against Florida in Starkville on Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Both State and Alabama fans have Jan. 15 circled on their calendars because that's when the Bulldogs head into Tuscaloosa to take on the Tide, currently the No. 1 ranked team in the country.
That should be a war.
The Bulldogs play at Ole Miss on Jan. 29, host the Rebels on Feb. 15, visit Kentucky on Feb. 23 and host Alabama on Feb. 26.
Of course, any SEC game is a tough one, but those are definitely ones to watch out for.
The Bulldogs have won the SEC Tournament two of the last three years so there is no reason to think MSU won't make another run at the title March 13-16 in New Orleans.
Hats off to
the Rebels
Who knows just how big Ole Miss' 27-23 win over Nebraska will really turn out to be?
Yes, this Nebraska team is just a shadow of traditional Cornhusker squads, but it was still Nebraska and that counts for something.
Besides, in 20 years who will remember anything other than the fact that Ole Miss beat Nebraska? How about 10 years? Five years?
Shoot-fire, it won't really that matter that much next year. The Rebels knocked off one of the premier programs in the country and that's that.
That victory will give head coach David Cutcliffe who appears to be one of the really nice guys in the business a strong jumping off spot for future years.
After the game he said that he was going to stay in Oxford and direct the Rebels, shunning an opportunity to take over the helm at the University of Kentucky.
While Eli says he's not sure if he is going to stay at Ole Miss or go pro, I would have to say that the win over Nebraska would encourage him to stay one more year and see what 2003 could be like for the Rebels.
How bout
dem Saints
Well it all comes down to this in order for the New Orleans Saints to make the playoffs they must beat Carolina today and the Atlanta Falcons must lose to the Cleveland Browns.
It's as simple as that.
The Giants secured one wild card spot with a win over the Eagles on Saturday, the other will either go to Atlanta or New Orleans.
What was once a promising season has turned into one in which the Saints have to have help in order to make the playoffs. That's a shame.
Diehard Saints' fans should be used to the team making it as hard as possible.
It is certainly possible that the Browns will beat the Falcons and the Saints will beat the Panthers.
But, being the heartbreakers they are, it is just as likely that if Atlanta loses, the Saints will lose to the lowly Panthers.
Go figure!