Smith on Sports: SEC Network does well producing MSU memories

Danny P. Smith

Sports Editor

One of the best things the SEC Network does during the year is its Takeover series.
As the summer winds down and the anticipation for football season reaches its highest point, the SEC Network does a good job giving fans an appetizer.
Each Southeastern Conference school has a day on the SEC Network from the end of July through the first week of August. Featured are games that have been the highlights of the school’s highest achievement or special documentaries of famous athletes or events from the past.

Saturday was Mississippi State’s day.

If you are a supporter of the Bulldogs, it was a chance to remember some of the special sports moments in school history.

One of the highlights of the day for me was watching the 2001-02 MSU men’s basketball team defeat No. 6 Kentucky 74-69 in overtime at Humphrey Coliseum.

It was a career performance for Mario Austin, who scored 32 points for the Bulldogs and hit a 3-point field goal to send the game into overtime. I remember covering the game from press row at court side and can remember Austin’s shot like it was yesterday.

Austin’s heroics capped an incredible comeback by MSU. The Bulldogs rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit to pull off the upset under head coach Rick Stansbury.

The game had a little bit of a Webster County flavor as former East Webster player and coach Corey Stidham received a little bit of air time, while former Eupora player Marckell Patterson got a key rebound and hit big free throws at the end of the game to help the victory.

The scene shifted from Starkville to Pearl and the sport changed from basketball to baseball as the Governor’s Cup matchup between MSU and Ole Miss from this past season was shown.

It ended up being one of the many exciting walk-off wins for the Bulldogs on their run to Omaha, Nebraska, and the College World Series. Luke Alexander had a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth as MSU beat its rival 7-6 at Trustmark Park.

That was just one of the momentum building blocks for the Bulldogs that led to a special finish to the season.

The MSU schedule begin on the SEC Network Friday night before midnight with men’s basketball and its National Invitational Tournament win over Baylor last season. It ended on Saturday night with baseball’s Nashville Super Regional victory over Vanderbilt to send it to Omaha.

In between, big MSU wins by soccer, softball, men’s tennis and women’s basketball were shown. Probably the biggest upset in Bulldog football history was part of the Saturday afternoon slate with the thrilling 6-3 triumph over No. 1 Alabama in 1980.

It was also fun to watch some of the highlights from other SEC schools over the last couple of weeks.

The SEC Network appears to have a good thing going with its Takeover schedule. Hopefully that is something the network believes is worth keeping.

Danny P. Smith is the sports editor and columnist for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.