This is a big week of basketball on the road for the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs.
Any stretch of games in the Southeastern Conference is deemed important for positioning in the standings, but there's one particular reason to place emphasis on the matchups of this midweek.
It's rivalry week.
Forget for a moment that the Bulldogs have a battle against a tough Vanderbilt team Saturday in Nashville, Tenn., or that the Lady Bulldogs are in need of an SEC home victory against Auburn on Sunday.
There is some business to attend to in Oxford first.
Mississippi State's men play against Ole Miss today at Tad Smith Coliseum, then the Lady Bulldogs take on the Lady Rebels at the same venue on Thursday.
The MSU women seem to have a more urgent situation than the men at the moment.
It will be important for the Lady Bulldogs, which have won the last three meetings against Ole Miss and five of the last six meetings, to pick up another victory in the series to keep bragging rights and not to slip too far back in the standings.
After losing both SEC games played at Humphrey Coliseum so far this season (LSU and Georgia), Mississippi State has to pick up another win on the road to make up for it. The Lady Bulldogs were able to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa last Thursday.
MSU has a 1-3 mark so far in the league and stands ninth in the conference standings.
The Lady Bulldogs can't afford too many more early losses if they are to stay in position to challenge for the upper half of the SEC.
Mississippi State has talent with seniors Diamber Johnson and Porsha Porter at the guards. The Lady Bulldogs need to be a little more consistent in the post and everyone needs to be on the same page from here on out if they are to have success.
Regardless of the loss to Georgia on Sunday, MSU was able to hold special promotions to reflect on where the program has been.
The Lady Bulldogs hosted a special event last weekend when about 20 former players returned to campus as part of Alumni Weekend.
Some of the activities they enjoyed were a memories party, the men's basketball game on Saturday, the Sunday morning devotional, pre-game meal, shoot-around and the women's game against Georgia.
"Some of them came in from Florida and Georgia so there were folks that got to see Mississippi State as it's changed through the years," MSU women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "It was great to see, meet a couple of new folks, see some familiar faces and welcome them back home."
One of those was Mary Kathryn Whittle (Govero), who is now the girls basketball coach at Starkville Christian School.
"It was fun seeing old teammates and other people who had played in the past," Whittle said. "It was good and I hope to get back out there more when we finish our season here."
Danny P. Smith is 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 Daily News or its staff.
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