Sideline View by Dale McKee
LSU basketball retired the jersey of Gulfport native Mahmoud Abdul-Raul, who was formerly Chris Jackson, in a ceremony Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Jackson first came on the scene in Mississippi basketball circles in 1985, and I have to say I have never seen a better shooter. I have heard stories from his junior and senior high school coaches on his work ethic in the gym. The legend of Chris Jackson says he once hit 100 straight free throws after practice. He played only two years at LSU but still holds the NCAA record for freshman by averaging 30 points per game his rookie season. Jackson was twice named the SEC Player of the Year before heading to the NBA for nine seasons.
The SEC Women’s tournament will be held this week in Greenville, South Carolina, and No. 1 seed South Carolina will try to go for their fifth SEC tournament title in six seasons. The Lady Gamecocks wrapped up their fifth regular season title in seven seasons by going 16-0 in SEC action. Mississippi State (13-3, 25-5), who will be the second seed, will have a double bye and will not see their first action until Friday at 5 p.m. Ole Miss (0-16, 7-19), who went winless in SEC play, will tangle with Missouri on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. The USM Lady Golden Eagles (6-10, 14-13) still have two regular season contests this week hosting Florida Atlantic on Thursday and traveling to UAB for their finale. The Lady Eagles have a chance for a No. 8 seed with a good showing this week.
The SEC men will end their season this week as State (10-6, 19-9) hosts Ole Miss (5-11, 14-15) Saturday night. MSU has a chance to secure a double bye with a win over their rivals and a win at South Carolina on Tuesday. Ole Miss will host Missouri on Wednesday. USM (5-11, 9-20) will host Rice on Wednesday before traveling to Middle Tennessee to end the regular season.
Boys of Spring
Ole Miss (10-1) won all four games they played last week edging USM 4-3 in Oxford and then leaving the friendly confines of Swayze Field to win three games in the Keith LeClair Classic held at East Carolina University. The Rebels have now won ten straight games and will host Memphis in a single game on Tuesday before hosting Ivy League power Princeton this weekend in a three-game set. Mississippi State (7-4) won three of five games this week. They were upset early in the week by winless Texas Southern but rebounded to beat Alcorn State and then traveled to Long Beach, California, where they lost two of three to the Dirt Bags. This week they will take on USM in Pearl and then host the winless Bobcats of Quinnipiac University of Hamden, Connecticut. Bulldogs head coach Chris Lemonis won this 200th game Saturday as a head coach. It was his 59th at MSU. USM won three of five this week to improve to 9-3 overall. The Golden Eagles besides heading to Pearl to take on MSU on Tuesday will host Little Rock in a three-game set at Pete Taylor Park this weekend.
Taylorsville native Billy Hamilton of the San Francisco Giants met one of his idols in Willie Mays this week. He told media outlets it was a dream come true for him. Hattiesburg native Joe Gray, who is only 19 years old, was 2-for-2 in a Major League spring training game for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The MHSAA basketball tournaments will have their semifinals for all classes in Jackson early this week before heading to Ole Miss for the championship games in all six classes this weekend.
Dale is a Waynesboro native who has been writing sports in Mississippi since 1973.