STARKVILLE — Mississippi State University men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury said again Saturday he isn’t worrying about his team’s NCAA tournament bubble status.
That’s fine. His players and fans likely will contemplate the Bulldogs’ fate in the time leading up to Selection Sunday.
MSU improved its chances of earning an at-large bid to the “Big Dance” with a 79-59 victory against the University of Arkansas at Humphrey Coliseum. Asked if he thought the victory was enough to make everyone in the team’s locker room comfortable, MSU senior point guard Dee Bost shook his head.
“It’s not enough,” Bost said. “We still have to go in (the SEC tournament) with a mind-set we have to win it all.”
On Saturday, MSU fans and everyone associated with the program sweated out potential mid-major bid stealers, as No. 12 Murray State (30-1) rallied to take the Ohio Valley Conference tournament title. The bad news came minutes before tip at The Hump, as Illinois State defeated No. 15 Wichita State (27-5) 65-64 in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament semifinals in St. Louis.
Televisions in Starkville will be tuned to WCBI at 1:05 p.m. today as Illinois State will try to beat No. 25 Creighton in the conference tournament’s title game. If it does, it will earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, and it likely will make the MVC a three-bid conference. As a result, a bubble team, which could be MSU, would lose a chance to earn an at-large bid.
The last time MSU (21-10, 8-8 Southeastern Conference) was forced to win four games in four days in the league tournament to secure a bid to the NCAA tournament, it accomplished the feat in Tampa, Fla. The University of Georgia, MSU’s first-round opponent at 9 p.m. Thursday (SEC Network) in the first round of the 2012 SEC tournament in New Orleans, was MSU’s initial opponent in the 2009 league tournament.
The memory is still a fond one in the mind of the MSU senior point guard Dee Bost, one of two players on the 2011-12 roster who was around three seasons ago.
“It starts with Georgia again,” Bost said. “We just need to go out there and play hard.”
Cristil honored at Humphrey Coliseum
Jack Cristil is the only person in the Davis Wade Stadium ring of
honor, owner of a banner at Humphrey Coliseum, and who has a highway with his name on it.
All the legendary MSU broadcaster had to do to earn that distinction was put
his microphone down.
On Saturday, MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin and school president
Mark Keenum unveiled an honorary banner, which has a microphone and the years of his service (1953-2011), at halftime.
This past fall, Cristil’s name was permanently placed on the facade of Davis Wade Stadium.
“Since Jack described so many great Mississippi State moments in basketball, it’s fitting for his name to hang with the Bulldog legends of this sport,” Stricklin said.
Cristil’s banner joins those that recognize former All-American Bailey Howell and legendary coach Babe McCarthy. Cristil announced games
involving Howell and McCarthy.
Cristil, 86, joined the MSU broadcast team in 1953 and called 636 football games and 1,540 basketball games. His last broadcast was on Feb. 26, 2011, when MSU upset the University of Tennessee 70-69 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Cristil, who was hired by former athletics director C.R. “Dudy” Noble in 1953, called his first football game on Sept. 19, 1953, a 34-6 win against Memphis State University.
Cristil took over the basketball broadcast duties in 1957-58. He was there for MSU’s first SEC title in 1959, the Bulldogs’ first NCAA tournament appearance in 1963 and MSU’s run to the 1996 Final Four.
Cristil, who resides in Tupelo, was named the SEC Broadcaster of the Year in 1988, and he was recipient of the Mississippi Sportscaster of the Year Award a record 21 times.
Hood comes off the bench for second straight game
Freshman Rodney Hood came off the bench Saturday for the second straight game since he injured his left knee last week.
In 21 minutes, Hood had three points, three rebounds, and two assists, but he missed all three of his 3-pointers.
Stansbury said after the game he wasn’t sure what the future holds for Hood, but he said Hood has provided a huge lift in MSU’s two-game winning surge.
“We couldn’t have won at South Carolina without him,” Stansbury said. “Having his body, if nothing else, was significant, but he’s still not himself. Maybe we’ll have more time now to get him back.”
The 6-foot-8 guard/forward was injured late in the first half of a 73-64 loss to the No. 1 University of Kentucky while fighting for position on a rebound.
The 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Mississippi had five points in 13 minutes Wednesday against South Carolina.