On the Links: Basketball Update; Baseball Column

Good morning, people. We all know what day this is: The day before national signing day. And tomorrow I will be bringing you plenty of coverage of said event.

But today we focus elsewhere. I have a couple of stories in today’s Journal you ought to read – one basketball, one baseball.

My hoops update examines MSU’s second-half struggles of late. In losses to Texas A&M and LSU, the Bulldogs saw double-digit first-half leads vanish due to a variety of miscues. In those two games, State outscored its foes 69-43 in the first half but was outscored 81-48 in the second half and overtime.

During Monday’s press conference, coach Rick Ray reiterated a point he made following the LSU loss.

“Four things always happen when you’re down: Teams start pressing and pressuring more in halfcourt setting with their man-to-man defense or any sort of a zone press; they drive the ball more on offense; they ball screen more on offense; and they try to go get more offensive rebounds,” Ray said. “If you can combat those four things, then you’ve got a chance to have success in the second half, and we didn’t do that.”

• On the baseball front, here’s a column I wrote on Dudy Gras, the annual parade/event for those MSU fans who reside behind the outfield wall at Dudy Noble Field. I had good talks last week with former players Ed Easley and Jeffrey Rea, as well as with a couple of the Dudy Gras participants.

Easley, by the way, is still playing minor league ball. He’s a catcher, and he told me that he’ll report to spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. Then he’ll report to Triple-A Reno, which will be a move up from Double-A Mobile, where he’s been most of the past three years. Easley had a short stint in Reno in 2010.

Easley hit .265 with two home runs and 23 RBIs for Mobile last year.

“I’d obviously like to already be in the big leagues by now,” he said, “but I’m glad to still be playing and still getting an opportunity to put a uniform on. They’re still giving me an opportunity to make it, but it’s all up to me. I’m just going to keep grinding.”

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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