1. No Cowbells at The Hump
State’s signature salute to the bulldogs is an awful din. Two years ago I sat through the disgusting sound at Davis-Wade Stadium and my ears are still ringing. Luckily, I don’t believe it is allowed at The Hump. There aren’t rules posted regarding cowbell use at The Hump and none of my esteemed colleagues remember hearing them from their trips. If cowbells were allowed inside the confined space, it’d be an evening no one could ever forget.
2. No Malik Newman
The five-star phenom didn’t last long in Starkville. A point guard once pursued by Kentucky, Newman only averaged 11.3 points per game before deciding to transfer to Kansas.
Even without Newman, State is the youngest team in the country. The average age of each player is only 19.5. Howland starts three sophomores and two freshmen. The only contributing upperclassman is I.J. Ready, who is second in the SEC in assists at 5.6 per game.
3. It’s a White Out
Because of course it is. If there are a few people who don’t get the memo, they’ll have terrible white “Beat Kentucky” towels to wave.
4. “Call Me”
That was DeMarcus Cousins’ message to the fans in Starkville back in 2010. When Rick Stansbury had the Bulldogs rolling with Jarvis Varnado, State fans got ahold of Cousins’ phone number before the game. Cousins responded by dropping 19 points, 14 rebounds and a “call me” in an 81-75 overtime win.
Cousins would crush the souls of Miss. State fans once again in the SEC Championship game, forcing overtime with this tip-in. UK won by one in overtime, clinching Calipari’s first SEC Tournament Championship.
5. Cal vs. State
John Calipari has never lost to Mississippi State. A win tonight would give him a 10-0 record against the Bulldogs. The Cats hold a 93-20 advantage in the series. Ben Howland is 1-2 vs. Kentucky. Howland’s only victory was a 73-68 victory as UCLA’s head coach in the 2006 Maui Invitational.
6. An Impressive Win Streak
The young Bulldogs had a sluggish start to the season, losing by 25 to UCF and Lehigh by 14. After a two-point home loss to East Tennessee in mid-December, the Dogs have turned it around, winning six of their last seven. They’re coming off a 17-point win against Texas A&M where they forced 22 turnovers.
7. State has the Best Fan in the SEC
If you don’t know Stingray Steve, it’s time to crawl out from under your rock. There are many diehard SEC football fans, but Stingray is the best. His rants are hilarious, his play calls are impeccable, his pickup lines are corny and most importantly, he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
At SEC Media Days I wanted to ask him about his Bulldogs, but he was more interested in Kentucky. We talked for about ten minutes where he revealed that he often cheers for the Cats during basketball season. I wonder if he’ll put down his cowbell for tonight’s game?
8. A Pair of Owensboro Prospects
During Rick Stansbury’s time at Miss. State, the Battletown, Ky. native recruited some of Western Kentucky’s best to Starkville. He’s gone, but Western Kentucky’s best are still going to State.
Freshman guard Eli Wright played for three years at Apollo before transferring to Prep School for his final season. The ninth man off the bench averages 2.3 points in 12.3 minutes a game. Owensboro High’s Aric Holman is State’s starting power forward. Their most productive post, the Sweet 16 Champion averages 10.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a game.
9. They Saved a Woman’s Life
Mechanical issues forced Miss. State of a plane and onto a bus for their game at LSU. On the road to Baton Rouge, the team saw a vehicle swerve across the road and flip. The bus stopped and players rushed to the vehicle to help the driver. She walked away without any significant injuries.
10. They Will Lose to Kentucky Tonight
Go ahead and write it down. Cats by 90.