Monday, April 27, 2015  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Growing UAS research fields
Research efforts connecting unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with precision agriculture applications continue to mount. Research initiatives led by both the private and public parties are highlighting the role UAS will play in future agriculture applications. Two years after receiving its first FAA COA, Mississippi State University has advanced its UAS efforts from sUAV operation to its current work with automated computer programs capable of recognizing individual seedlings to quickly determining plant density in a given field. Robert Moorhead, director of MSU's Geosystems Research Institute and a professor of electrical and computer engineering, said the school's current UAS work is like applying prescriptions to fields using site-specific data.
 
Adrian Cross receives MSU-Meridian's 2015 Spirit of State Award
Meridian resident Adrian Cross was recognized as MSU-Meridian's 2015 Spirit of State Award recipient at a ceremony held recently on the Starkville campus. The award recognizes students who demonstrate an exceptional personal commitment to enhancing student life at Mississippi State. A graduate student in the Teaching Community College Education Program, Cross serves as treasurer of the Student Association at MSU-Meridian. It is in this capacity that she embodies the spirit of Mississippi State University and exemplifies outstanding leadership, according to Marilyn James, student services manager at MSU-Meridian. James nominated Cross for the award.
 
The Riley Foundation elects new officers
New officers were elected at the recent board of directors meeting of The Riley Foundation. Robert B. Deen Jr., was elected chairman/CEO, Marty Davidson, president/treasurer, and Malcolm Portera Ph.D., vice president/secretary. Under the leadership of Deen, Davidson and Portera, the board will continue to follow its mission and be proactively involved in making charitable grants for the betterment of cultural, environmental, and economic conditions for the people of Meridian and Lauderdale County. The Foundation was created in 1998, and, according to Executive Director, Becky Farley, has awarded more than $60 million to the community for many worthy causes, including transforming a block of deteriorated buildings in downtown Meridian, into what is now the Mississippi State University-Riley Campus.
 
Julie White: Avid advocate for American agriculture
What do you call someone who (1) has a full-time job, (2) is a mom with two young children, (3) is working toward completion of a Ph.D., (4) helps her husband with a family cattle operation, and (5) is deeply immersed in promote agriculture programs that have earned state and national recognition? Answer: A very busy person. For Julie White, whose day job is Mississippi State University Extension agent for Oktibbeha County, Miss., an already over-full schedule is about to expand even more as a result of being named the first-ever Mississippi participant in the American Farm Bureau Federation's prestigious two-year Partners in Agricultural Leadership (PAL) class.
 
Mississippi State Hosts Old Main Music Festival
A popular music festival has a new look but the same feel. The Old Main Music Festival kicked off Saturday at Mississippi State University's amphitheater. Along with live music acts, the annual spring festival now includes an art market and other fun activities. The event is organized by Music Maker Productions and is free to the public.
 
Clay County continues climb out of unemployment
For a long time, when the monthly jobless report from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security was released, Clay County officials would find their county near the bottom of the list. These days, the reports are much more favorable. The MDES report released last week shows Clay County continues to find more of its adults joining the workforce. In March, Clay County unemployment stood at 10.5 percent and while that number is still well above the state (6.8 percent) and national (5.5 percent) averages, there is no doubt Clay County is headed in the right direction. "I think we're all pretty optimistic these days," West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson said. Oktibbeha County boasts the lowest jobless rate in the Golden Triangle, matching the national rate of 5.5 percent. That represents a 0.7 percent decrease since last month and is 2.2 percent lower than one year ago this month.
 
1st District US House race: Hard to break out from the pack
Going into the final three weeks of the campaign for the 1st District U.S. House race, it's difficult to tell the pretenders from the contenders. When asked how he would manage a campaign with a field of 13 candidates and a limited amount of time to campaign, longtime Democratic consultant Jere Nash of Jackson said, "The first thing you do is pray... My own sense is that there is not strong intensity for any one candidate." Nash, and Republican consultants Hayes Dent of Yazoo City and Grant Fox of Brandon, a Houston native who reached the runoff in 1994 in the 1st District congressional race, all agreed that in such an unusual race such factors as geography and connections -- often personal connections to specific groups of people -- could be the difference.
 
1st District candidates answer Daily Journal questions
The field in the race for Mississippi's 1st District Congressional seat might be populous, but the stance the candidates take on tough issues are, in general, singular. The candidates vying for the seat left vacant by the death of Congressman Alan Nunnelee answered five questions emailed to them by the Daily Journal. The questions asked candidates to tell Mississippians in the 22 1st District counties what issues they would put on top of their agenda if elected and how they felt about the current Congress, which has historically low public approval ratings. The candidates, who were asked to keep responses to 125 words each, provided a glimpse into the issues that will dominate the May 12 special election.
 
Attorneys bicker over appeal in ed funding ballot title
Attorneys are arguing over whether the Mississippi Supreme Court should second-guess a circuit judge's ruling that affects education funding proposals on the ballot this November. The citizen-led Initiative 42 would require lawmakers to fund "an adequate and efficient system of free public schools." People could appeal to court if funding falls short. The fight over what will appear on the ballot is important because the wording could determine whether voters accept one of the school funding proposals or reject them both. If one of the proposals is approved, it will affect how legislators set budgets for schools and other state services.
 
Initiative process difficult to use
A conservative group announced last week that it will try to put a term-limits amendment on the Mississippi ballot, but history shows there's a good chance the proposal will never even come up for a vote. Legislators made Mississippi's initiative process burdensome when they created it more than two decades ago. Putting a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot requires people to circulate petitions and gather signatures from at least 107,216 registered voters within a year. At least 21,443 of those must come from each of the five congressional districts that the state used in 2000. Mississippi has had four congressional districts since the 2002 election cycle, but the initiative law still relies on outdated maps.
 
MDOC: New prisons health care provider would save money
The head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections says the state could save $2 million over the next three years by choosing a new private contractor to provide health care for inmates. The health services contract is one of several Department of Corrections financial pacts that are being redone after last year's federal criminal indictment of former Commissioner Christopher Epps. The current corrections commissioner, Marshall Fisher, said Friday that the department is recommending that Centurion of Mississippi LLC be awarded a three-year contract worth $149.2 million starting July 1, the beginning of the new state budget year.
 
Scruggs to raise funds for adult ed
The man famously nicknamed Zeus will climb Mount Olympus this year to raise awareness about the shockingly high number of Mississippi high-school dropouts and raise funds to help the community college system educate them. Former hotshot attorney Dickie Scruggs, having served his time for judicial bribery and barred from ever again practicing law, has made this issue his new life passion. With the blessing of all 15 community college presidents and a cadre of adult-education experts, Scruggs launched a nonprofit called SecondChanceMS. The organization hopes to raise $1 million this year alone to supplement the $3 million in state dollars community colleges must share for their dropout recovery efforts.
 
Confederate Memorial Day 2015: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi state offices closed Monday
One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War's end, several Southern states will mark Confederate Memorial Day as an official state holiday. In ceremonies scattered across the states of the Old Confederacy, cannons will sound, mournful bagpipes skirl and wreaths made from magnolia leaves placed at monuments and graves. State offices in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia will be closed Monday in a holiday, that some call a day to honor the dead and others call an anachronistic tradition with no place in the modern South. Mississippi state Rep. Earle Banks for several years has unsuccessfully pushed legislation to make Mississippi's Confederate Memorial Day a combined holiday also celebrating "Civil Rights Memorial Day." For most southerners, Monday will just be another day of school and work.
 
Pentagon's Cyber Strategy Relies on Deterrence, Industry
The Pentagon's new cyber strategy emphasizes deterrence, a shift that analysts say is a subtle, but important, change for the future of the department. It also sets up a reliance on the commercial technology sector, which comes with a new push to strengthen ties between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon. The new strategy, released April 23, represents the first update to the Pentagon's cyber strategy since 2011 --- a veritable lifetime given the speed technology has developed. The overall focus of the strategy falls into three categories: defending Defense Department networks, systems and information; defending against cyber attacks of what the department calls "significant consequence;" and providing integrated cyber capabilities to military operations.
 
Koch Industries drops criminal-history question from job applications
Koch Industries, one of the nation's largest private companies, has removed questions about prior criminal convictions from its job applications, becoming the latest corporation to join a burgeoning movement trying to make it easier for ex-offenders to find work. Koch Industries, which employs 60,000 workers in the United States, dropped the questions last month, company officials said. More than half its U.S. jobs are in manufacturing. The company's CEO Charles Koch, a billionaire known for his support of Republican candidates and libertarian causes, has made overhauling the criminal-justice system a priority. Mark Holden, Koch's general counsel and senior vice president, said it made common sense for the company to take this step. "Do we want to be judged for the rest of our life for something that happened on our worst day?" Holden said, during an interview with USA TODAY at the company's headquarters.
 
MUW's Nepali students gather after earthquake
Nepali students at Mississippi University for Women gathered at university president Jim Borsig's house on Saturday to wait together for news of family and friends from Nepal, where a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the small country Saturday. "We are mostly just trying to get contact with family right now," senior Sandeep Manandhar, one of the students gathered at Borsig's house, said. There are more than 30 students from Nepal at MUW, including junior Sumitra Karki, president of the university's International Student Association. She and around 15 others gathered at Borsig's house at 3 p.m., where they sat together talking with each other and faculty members, including Craig Watson, a counselor; Kim Whitehead, professor of English and religious studies; and Billy Simmons, coordinator of international student services.
 
Ole Miss police searching for sexual assault suspect
The Ole Miss Police Department is investigating an alleged sexual assault that happened on campus early Saturday morning. University Police said in a campus alert it happened around 2 a.m. in the rear parking lot of Stewart Hall. The victim told investigators she hitched a ride from the male suspect near the law school. When they arrived to Stewart Hall, the suspect allegedly began touching the victim and demanded sex. She managed to escape when he started removing his clothes.
 
Scotland native UMMC's new chief medical officer
The University of Mississippi Medical Center's new chief medical officer wears a Scottish kilt. But what Dr. Michael Henderson, a native of Edinburgh, is better known for is his international reputation in health care quality improvement. "It's about everyone coming to work and knowing you are a caregiver -- everyone, not just physicians," said Henderson, who joined the UMMC team March 1. "When someone says, 'I clean the rooms here, and I'm helping to prevent infection,' that's where you want your culture." He was attracted to UMMC, Henderson said, because he saw great opportunity to improve performance hospital-wide and put his personal pillars to work.
 
Southern Miss College of Business celebrates student and faculty achievements
The College of Business at the University of Southern Mississippi celebrated its distinguished faculty members and students during an annual Honors Banquet held April 16 at the Thad Cochran Center on the Hattiesburg campus. Forty student candidates were inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the premier honor society recognizing the highest standards in business excellence. Gallayanee Yaoyuneyong, a professor in the Department of Marketing and Merchandising, received the Joseph A. Greene Excellence in Teaching Award. Part of Yaoyuneyong's teaching philosophy is to equip students with the tools necessary for real life. "It is important not only to acquire knowledge and skill, but also to know how to best apply one's knowledge and skills in diverse circumstances," she said.
 
Two robbed at gunpoint on U. of Alabama campus
Two people were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday on the University of Alabama campus, and police are seeking help identifying the suspect and a getaway car. According to a UA police release, two victims were walking north along Campus Drive around 3 a.m. Sunday morning when an unknown vehicle approached them. The suspect, a black male in his mid-twenties, exited the car, pulled out a gun and demanded money. Police said the victims handed over cash and property before the suspect fled, driving south on Campus Drive.
 
Auburn University professors propose alternative state pension plan
A study completed by two finance professors in Auburn University's Harbert College of Business reports the Retirement Systems of Alabama faces an alarming $15.2 billion shortfall -- nearly double the state's $8.8 million debt -- and offers recommendations to right the ship. The 49-page report, "Alabama's Public Pensions: Building a Stable Financial Foundation for the Years Ahead," is co-authored by Jim Barth and John Jahera, published with the Alabama Policy Institute and made available to the Alabama Legislature for consideration this session. Alabama is expected to allocate $938 million to the state retirement system in 2015 -- the second-largest item in the budget behind education -- with $751 million coming from the Education Trust Fund and the remaining from the General Fund.
 
Days after LSU's credit outlook lowered, national investors pull out of bond sale for campus projects
Funding for new residence halls at LSU has been threatened amid a state budget crisis that has put Louisiana colleges and universities at risk of deep cuts in the coming year. National investors pulled out of a large portion of a $114 million bond deal, citing concerns over LSU's financial outlook, state Treasurer John Kennedy said. "LSU pulled the deal. I don't know if they had a choice. It was wise. It's not LSU's fault," Kennedy said in an interview Thursday. "It could have ramifications for other universities in Louisiana and for the state's overall bond rating, and it could impact the interest rate on future state bond issues." In a statement from the university, LSU officials wrote that the university had "decided to postpone" the issuance of the bonds.
 
Anxiety over massive proposed cuts to Louisiana's colleges felt across state
There's a class of budget reductions that are harmful -- even painful because of staff and program cuts -- and yet still manageable. Then there are financial cuts so dramatic -- and perhaps unrealistic -- that it's hard to picture what the remaining institution would look like when the dust settled. That second version is hanging over Louisiana's 28 public colleges and universities right now. The state faces a $1.6 billion budget deficit, and speculation of up to $300 million in cuts to higher education started appearing in news stories back in January. Since then, the worst-case scenario has only grown worse. "We're having to gamble on a whole lot of things -- hires, course offerings, whether to keep programs," said F. King Alexander, president of the Louisiana State University System. "All of that's a gamble because we probably won't know what will happen until that last week of the session."
 
LSU students, supporters to march against state budget cuts
Louisiana State University students in Baton Rouge are planning to march on the state capitol later this month to protest the state's proposed $600 million cut to higher education. The cuts could result in the closure of LSU satellite campuses and a substantial loss of programs and faculty members at the school's main campus, according to an LSU news release. Scheduled for Thursday, April 30, the march is being sponsored by LSU Alumni Association's Tiger Advocates and organized by members of the Baton Rouge campus' student government. "It's time for the Louisiana legislature to protect our students -- our future alumni -- and find alternative solutions to the budget shortfall," LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Cliff Vannoy said.
 
LSU unveils 3 other finalists in secretive presidential search
A two-year legal fight came to an end Friday as LSU finally revealed the three men F. King Alexander had to beat in spring 2013 to land the job as president and chancellor of Louisiana's flagship university. Those three other finalists were Steven Ballard, of East Carolina University; Richard Bowen Loftin, then president of Texas A&M University and now chancellor of the University of Missouri; and Malcolm Portera, retired chancellor of the University of Alabama. The spring 2013 LSU presidential search for which Alexander was named the sole finalist was a search conducted largely in secret. The Advocate, the Times-Picayune and Andrea Gallo, then a Daily Reveille employee, filed public records lawsuits against the LSU Board of Supervisors for not releasing more information about the search.
 
2 LSU students die Sunday afternoon after being discovered early morning in apartment swimming pool
Two LSU graduate students died Sunday after they were found earlier that morning unresponsive at the bottom of a swimming pool in a Tigerland-area apartment complex, Baton Rouge police said. When police arrived at the Cambridge West Apartments, 1315 Bob Pettit Blvd., at about 1 a.m., they found Anton Joe, 25, and Ishita Maity, 28, at the bottom of the pool, police said. An officer went into the water and pulled them out, but both were unresponsive, police said. Joe and Maity were taken to a hospital where they died Sunday afternoon, said Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a police spokesman. Police said the pool was closed and a gate to get into it was locked Sunday night. The two apparently got inside by climbing over a fence around the pool, police said.
 
U. of Florida could expel Zeta Beta Tau over harassment of wounded veterans
Already on a one-year probation for hazing, the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at the University of Florida has been suspended following reports that its members yelled at and spit on wounded military veterans vacationing in Panama City Beach last weekend. The fraternity has been charged with several offenses as a part of the university's formal investigation into "allegations of disturbing behavior toward veterans," officials said in a news release issued Friday afternoon. "I am personally offended and disappointed by the behavior that has been described to me," said David Kratzer, a retired U.S. Army general and UF vice president of student affairs. "This is not representative of our students or of the university."
 
Administrators ask: What would a UGA women's center look like?
A group of women's studies students recently handed a petition to University of Georgia President Jere Morehead. The petition called for the establishment of a women's center. The barrier to building any such entity, though, is that the lack of a concrete concept. UGA's two top administrators say they are not opposed in principle to a women's center on campus, but they wonder exactly what role such a center would perform. "It's not as straightforward as you might think. You find very little consensus on this," said Morehead, who directed UGA administrators to investigate the question of a women's center.
 
Undocumented students face college without Tennessee Promise
Hundreds of paper stars are hanging from the ceiling of the John Overton High School lobby, bearing the names of graduating seniors and the colleges they will be attending this fall. Kiara Beard: University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Catherine English: Vanderbilt University. Michael Nguyen: Nashville State Community College. But there isn't a star for Adriana Herrera, despite the fact that she desperately wants to go to college. Weeks away from graduation, the 18-year-old is still clamoring to find a school she can afford. This year, a number of Overton students, and thousands of graduating seniors across the state, will go to community or technical colleges tuition-free, thanks to the pioneering Tennessee Promise scholarship program. Gov. Bill Haslam believes Tennessee Promise will give students the opportunity to harness higher education for a chance at better jobs and brighter futures. That promise doesn't apply to Adriana, or to the thousands of other high school seniors in the Volunteer State who are undocumented residents.
 
Hussey getting back to agriculture after stint as Texas A&M's interim president
Mark Hussey has a near-panoramic view of Texas A&M University's campus from the dean's office on the fifth floor of the Agriculture and Life Sciences Building. On a clear day, he can see the video board of Kyle Field and watch the sun rise over John Kimbrough Boulevard as students make their way to class. When A&M System Chancellor John Sharp asked him to leave that office to become interim president of the university in late 2013, Hussey expected to be away for only four months. Sixteen months after he accepted the interim role and held the reins of the school from the Jack K. Williams Building across campus, the university found a full-time president in Michael Young from the University of Washington in February. Hussey will need to wait until April 30 to fully commit to his original position again, but he already is eager to devote his new high-level leadership qualities to the college and four state agencies under his control.
 
U. of Missouri alumnus gives $1 million to journalism school for LGBT education
Talking to his nephew helped Timothy Blair finalize a decision he'd been mulling for years. "I was talking to him about what it's like to be gay at his age, and of course he thought that was a really dumb question," Blair said. "But I thought it was an important one because that's where I really saw things for myself." On Friday afternoon at the University of Missouri Student Center, Blair stood before a small crowd and talked about his decision to pledge an estate gift of $1 million to the university. Blair's gift will fund research and education on the relationship between journalism and the advancement of human rights for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said in a news release that Blair's donation will help advance MU's journalism school.
 
Mental-Health Crunch on Campus
Universities are hiring more social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists as demand for campus mental-health services rises. But persistent budget gaps mean that students in some cases foot much of the cost of the positions. The increase in students seeking mental-health care mirrors society at large, where more people are taking drugs for depression, anxiety and related concerns. The stigma surrounding psychiatric issues also has faded among younger generations, experts say. With more students arriving already taking medication or having seen therapists, colleges are struggling to navigate their roles in this highly sensitive area, balancing student safety with financial, privacy and liability concerns.
 
BILL CRAWFORD (OPINION): Get ready for November ballot perplexity
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "The differences between Proposition 42 and Alternative 42A are stark. Huh? Well, for those not up to speed, Proposition 42 is the constitutional amendment on public school funding that over 116,000 citizens forced onto the ballot for this November. Alternative 42A is the substitute amendment that 30 senators (out of 52) and 65 representatives (out of 122) forced through the legislature and will also appear on the November ballot (the exact wording is being contested in court)."
 
GEOFF PENDER (OPINION): Mississippi's 'balanced' budget not so balanced
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Most every spring, Mississippi lawmakers laud themselves for having passed a 'balanced budget,' which is technically required by state law. This year, the Legislature even voted to join a states' drive to try to force Congress to balance its budget a la the Magnolia State. If we can do it, they can do it. But most every year, Mississippi lawmakers pretend a few very large expenses don't exist as they pass a budget and leave Jackson. They hope for a windfall to cover them by year's end with 'deficit appropriations.' It's a fiscal sleight of hand that leaves the state's budget balanced on paper, but actually out of true for most of the year."
 
SID SALTER (OPINION): Education reform can't be partisan effort
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "During a recent screening of the outstanding documentary film 'The Toughest Job: William Winter's Mississippi,' a rather provocative question was asked by John F. Marszalek, the distinguished professor emeritus of history and the current executive director of the U.S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University. Marszalek asked, 'Is it possible that such a thing could happen today in the state's current political climate?' What was the 'thing?' Broadly, it was the passage of the landmark 1982 Education Reform Act by Winter and his young, idealistic group of staffers who came to be known as 'the Boys of Spring.'"


SPORTS
 
Five-star prospect Malik Newman chooses Mississippi State
His accolades are numerous: the only high school player in Mississippi history to win four consecutive state championships, a two-time gold medalist and MVP with USA Basketball, and the consensus No. 1 player in country as a junior. On Friday, Malik Newman added another accomplishment to his lengthy resume. If all goes as expected, the Callaway star would become the highest-rated player to sign, commit and play for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. "It just kept popping up on my mind," Newman said. "It was Mississippi State, Mississippi State, Mississippi State. I just thought God placed everything in place for me and I thought that's the place I needed to be."
 
Newman: I can make an impact at Mississippi State
When Ben Howland was hired at Mississippi State last month, he promised to make a splash in recruiting. Howland made good on that promise Friday afternoon, landing the nation's top point guard, Malik Newman of Callaway. Newman chose the Bulldogs over other finalists Kentucky, Ole Miss, Kansas, LSU and N.C. State. "I really just weighed out all my options, and I think it's somewhere that I can go and really have an impact," Newman said. "I think the guys really want me there. I think with the new coach, I think he'll push me. He only expects great things out of me and the team and I think that's something that's going to happen."
 
Malik Newman commits to Mississippi State
With one glance underneath a table at his commitment ceremony on Friday afternoon, five-star guard Malik Newman may have changed the fortunes of Mississippi State's basketball program. Newman, a 6-foot-4 guard ranked as the No. 1 shooting guard prospect in the country, sat down at the aforementioned table and was prepared to announce his college decision. Before doing so, however, he raised the tablecloth and looked under the table, making sure his maroon MSU hat and cowbell were ready for the big reveal. With one ring of that bell, Newman solidified his commitment to coach Ben Howland and the Bulldogs. "It felt great," said Newman on Friday afternoon.
 
Ben Howland has planned how to use Malik Newman at Mississippi State
Ben Howland promised Mississippi State the best talent in the nation during his introduction on March 24. It took exactly a month for Howland to transform his vision into reality. Five-star Callaway guard Malik Newman pledged his allegiance to Mississippi State on Friday. It marked the first of a handful of Howland guarantees to come to fruition. "It's a great day for our program. It shows we can recruit and compete for great players in this country," Howland said. With the best players Mississippi State can compete with the best. Howland will develop the gameplan. Newman will be asked to execute it.
 
Malik Newman gives Mississippi State its missing piece
Six weeks ago Rick Ray sat in a cafeteria located in the bowels of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Mississippi State's coach at the time told The Clarion-Ledger his team was one player away from competing for a postseason tournament. Friday, Malik Newman sat in front of cameras in a room inside the Clarion-Ledger to announce his allegiance to Mississippi State. Ray won't reap the benefits of the newest Bulldog. Ben Howland inherits the cast of characters that Ray led to 13 wins in 2014. In 2015, Mississippi State has its missing piece. "I expect us to do great things," Newman said. "And making the (NCAA) Tournament is one of them and making a deep run in it."
 
HUGH KELLENBERGER (OPINION): Howland key to coup by Bulldogs
The Clarion-Ledger's Hugh Kellenberger writes: "In some ways what happened Friday should not be all that surprising, and not just because a handful of coaches who lost out on Malik Newman were willing to share the news of his commitment to Mississippi State before he was. But Newman, a five-star guard and likely NBA Draft lottery pick after one year of college, deciding to spend the 2015-16 season at Mississippi State could almost be expected. After all, that's just what top prospects from the state of Mississippi decide to do. Not all of them -- 23 years later Richard Williams still regrets missing out on Othella Harrington, and Devin Booker went from Moss Point to Kentucky last year -- but enough of them to say it's more than a passing trend. Five weeks ago, though, this was not going to happen."
 
LOGAN LOWERY (OPINION): Howland, Newman changing culture at Mississippi State
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Logan Lowery writes: "Let's face it, there hasn't been much to celebrate about Mississippi State's men's basketball program in quite some time. The Bulldogs have suffered through three straight losing seasons and haven't reached the postseason since 2011-12. But the outlook has certainly changed over the last month. Not only did MSU make the move to bring in a nationally renown coach like Ben Howland but also signed one of the top high school prospects in the country in Callaway's Malik Newman on Friday. Those two moves have rejuvenated a fan base that had fallen into apathy over the last few years."
 
Mississippi State's Austin Sexton helps snap a six-game losing streak
Mississippi State's offense continued to struggle, but its pitching staff silenced Arkansas. Austin Sexton, Trevor Fitts and Zac Houston surrendered six hits in MSU's 2-1 win at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Sunday. Sexton (4-4) pitched the first six innings allowing four hits and one run. He also struck out three and walked one. The Bulldogs will remain away from Starkville during the midweek for the Governor's Cup in Pearl. Mississippi State and Ole Miss meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m at Trustmark Park.
 
Mississippi State softball rallies for 7-5 win at Georgia Southern
Sophomore Mackenzie Toler put the team on her back on Toughness Sunday as she belted a line drive home run to lift Mississippi State over Georgia Southern in extra innings. MSU took the game 7-5 in nine innings on Sunday at Eagle Field. "We battled today and were able to come out on top against a good team on the road" Stuedeman said. "Today was all about toughness and we proved we brought it to the field today. We'll use the week off to keep getting better and be ready to close out conference play next weekend." MSU will have the week off before retaking the road for a three-game weekend set at South Carolina that will begin on Friday.
 
Mississippi State's Smith anticipates NFL draft call
Preston Smith rarely does anything without a smile. Mississippi State's affable defensive end spent four years as one of his team's most dominant personalities. His smile grew even bigger as a senior, when he made the transition from reliable contributor to explosive pass-rusher and earned All-Southeastern Conference accolades. The laid-back and easy-going defensive end from Stone Mountain, Georgia, said his personality on the football field comes naturally. "I guess that's just me," Smith said. "I like to have fun. I know when it's time to work and when it's time to get serious, but I'm always going to have fun." Judging by the way his stock is rising for the upcoming NFL draft, it's doubtful that smile is going away any time soon.



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