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Will Mississippi State reach Final Four in 2024 NCAA Tournament? Tom Crean thinks so

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Will Mississippi State reach Final Four in 2024 NCAA Tournament? Tom Crean thinks so


Plenty of college basketball analysts voiced their belief in No. 8 seed Mississippi State basketball when bracket matchups were unveiled Sunday, suggesting the Bulldogs can beat No. 9 seed Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But ESPN’s Tom Crean took it much further.

The former head coach of Marquette, Indiana and Georgia has Mississippi State (21-13) making it to the Final Four, joining No. 1 seeds UConn and Houston and No. 2 seed Tennessee.

Crean predicts UConn will defeat the Bulldogs in the national semifinal, then beat the Vols in the championship game.

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Mississippi State opens play Thursday (11:15 a.m. CT, CBS) at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

To reach the heights Crean believes the Bulldogs can get to, they likely will have to upset No. 1 seed North Carolina in the second round — unless the winner of a play-in game to determine the No. 16 seed between Howard (18-16) and Wagner (16-15) does it first.

SHOPPING SPREE: Mississippi State men’s basketball tickets in 2024 NCAA Tournament

Stefan Krajisnik is the Mississippi State beat writer for the Clarion Ledger. Contact him at skrajisnik@gannett.com or follow him on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, @skrajisnik3.

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Mississippi

Clemson coach Shawn Poppie adds Mississippi's Chris Ayers as associate head coach

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Clemson coach Shawn Poppie adds Mississippi's Chris Ayers as associate head coach


CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson coach Shawn Poppie is adding Mississippi women’s basketball coach Chris Ayers to his staff.

Poppie said Friday that Ayers, who spent the past six years with the Rebels, would be his associate head coach.

Ayers helped Mississippi to the past three NCAA Tournaments.

Ayers is the latest hire for Poppie, the former Chattanooga head coach who was named to replace Amanda Butler last month.

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Poppie had brought in three assistants from his former program in Jonathan Goldberg, Katelyn Grisillo, and Jayda Worthy. Goldberg will serve as director of player development and recruiting, while Worthy will be director of player personnel.

Poppie said Ayers brings recruiting experience and player development “at the highest level.”

“His resume speaks for itself,” Poppie said.

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Makylan Pounders working toward long-awaited first season at Mississippi State

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Makylan Pounders working toward long-awaited first season at Mississippi State


STARKVILLE — More than three years later, Makylan Pounders is back where it all started.

As a three-star offensive line recruit from Byhalia, in northwest Mississippi, Pounders had offers from five Southeastern Conference programs out of high school, including both institutions in his home state. His first unofficial visits as a high school junior were to Ole Miss, but in April 2020, Pounders committed to Mississippi State. And he was all set to become a Bulldog until he decommitted that December, shortly before that year’s early signing period.

Three days after decommitting from MSU, Pounders committed to the Rebels, and was ready to sign his national letter of intent to play for head coach Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss’ offensive coordinator at the time — Jeff Lebby. But Ole Miss never sent over the proper paperwork, and after Pounders called the coaches several times, he was told the Rebels were rescinding his scholarship offer.

Pounders quickly pivoted and ended up playing even closer to home, signing with Memphis the very next day. He redshirted his freshman year with the Tigers but soon worked his way into the starting lineup, making 10 starts as a redshirt sophomore last fall and helping Memphis rank seventh in the country in scoring offense. With two years of eligibility remaining, Pounders entered the transfer portal and immediately had several enticing offers waiting for him.

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Auburn and South Carolina each offered him the day Pounders put his name in the portal, as did Texas Tech and Pittsburgh. But Pounders knew MSU was the right fit for him, and he became the fourth transfer addition Lebby brought in after taking over as the Bulldogs’ head coach in late November.

“It’s honestly been surreal,” Pounders said. “Just being able to come back and play for these colors, it really was a personal feeling for me. When I hit the transfer portal, I knew where I was coming, just because (of the) family vibe. All the people around here as far as the support staff are still around, so I was able to feel at home real easily compared to other schools.”

Pounders is one of four offensive linemen MSU has added via the portal this offseason, along with Ethan Miner (North Texas), Marlon Martinez (LSU) and Jacoby Jackson (Texas Tech). All are expected to compete for starting roles considering the Bulldogs’ top six linemen from 2023 have either transferred or exhausted their eligibility.

New offensive line coach Cody Kennedy is working Pounders at left tackle and plans to have him start there when MSU opens the season against Eastern Kentucky on Aug. 31.

“We talk as a big o-line group, but those transfers are a little more tight-knit, just because we all came into a new situation,” Pounders said. “All of us coming from somewhat winning programs, we all can come together and lead by example and other people falling in line, and it seems like it’s working so far.”

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Pounders expressed excitement about the Bulldogs’ quarterback depth — Baylor transfer Blake Shapen is the presumptive starter, but rising sophomore Chris Parson appeared in two games last year and incoming freshman Michael Van Buren could also work his way into the mix.

But even after losing Kwatrivous Johnson, Percy Lewis, Cole Smith and others up front, MSU has plenty of depth on the line as well. Albert Reese, Leon Bell and Canon Boone all saw playing time in reserve roles last year, and players like Grant Jackson, who has mostly played on special teams over the last three years, could see the field more as well.

“(Pounders) has that Bulldog mentality for sure,” Jackson said. “You always like to see somebody like that come in and take charge. He’s going to help us out a lot at left tackle.”

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Thunder & Lightning: Can Mississippi State Continue Its Diamond Dominance of Ole Miss? – SuperTalk Mississippi

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Thunder & Lightning: Can Mississippi State Continue Its Diamond Dominance of Ole Miss? – SuperTalk Mississippi



For seven straight seasons, the balance of baseball power in the Magnolia State has belonged to Mississippi State. Now the Bulldogs head to Oxford looking to turn the screws on their bitter enemies once again, with Ole Miss nearing must win mode after a tough start to SEC play. Who will leave the field Sunday with the series in their pocket? Brian Hadad and Robbie Faulk preview the latest revival of the SEC’s most intense rivalry.

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