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franklin county times

MSU victory… Dogs' defense dominates USM

By Staff
VICTORY n Mississippi State guard Derrick Zimmerman (22) raises his hand in victory following his team's 75-68 victory over Southern Miss, Wednesday in the first round the National Invitational Tournament in Starkville. AP photo
By Fredie Carmichael/Special to The Star
March 15, 2001
STARKVILLE Taking a page from arch-rival Ole Miss' playbook, Mississippi State used a stifling defense here Wednesday to wear down Southern Miss in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament.
The Bulldogs employed a tight man-to-man defense, forcing turnovers they time and time again converted into fast break buckets on the way to a 75-68 win.
The Bulldog defense stopped Southern Miss' high-octane tandem of Vandarel Jones and David Wall. The Golden Eagles' leading scorers were never able to make an impact on the game.
As if the Southeastern Conference didn't have enough to brag about already, the Bulldogs made sure they drove home the point.
MSU, near the SEC bottom at 7-9 in conference play, controlled the game against a Southern Miss team that shared the regular season Conference-USA title with an 11-5 mark.
Junior Bulldog guard Derrick Zimmerman sparked the home crowd with a hair-raising jam at the 14:15 mark in the first half. "Z", as his teammates call him, saw he was unguarded and made a swift move to the basket.
He was met in mid-air by the Golden Eagles' Jones, but the 6-2 sophomore jumped a few inches higher and threw it down to give MSU an early 9-4 lead.
For Stansbury, it was the first post-season win as the Bulldogs' head coach, coming in just his second post season game during a three-year tenure. The Bulldogs lost their NIT opener two years ago on the road against Colorado St. Stansbury was an assistant under former head coach Richard Williams when the Bulldogs went to the final four during the 1995-96 season.
MSU is 13-3 this season at Humphrey Coliseum, nicknamed "The Hump," and is hoping to get an NIT second round game at home when they face Pittsburgh on Monday or Tuesday. The site has yet to be announced.
Fredie Carmichael is a sports correspondent for The Meridian Star.