Student arrives very early for game


Published: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Daniel Sykes showed up at 9:15 a.m. outside the gates of Humphrey Coliseum. A graduate student studying animal physiology, Sykes wanted to make sure he had a good seat for the showdown between Mississippi State and No. 1 Florida.

"I think we have a chance to pull off the upset," Sykes said.

A vocal student contingent, wearing all-white, filled the arena hours before Wednesday's 9 p.m. EDT tipoff. Florida entered Wednesday night just the second No. 1 team in Mississippi State history to visit Humphrey Coliseum, which opened in 1975.

Kentucky was the last No. 1 team to visit Humphrey Coliseum, in 1978. The Joe B. Hall-coached Wildcats beat Mississippi State 75-65 and went on to win the national title that season.

Sykes said he spent the free time playing cards and talking with friends after he attended his 7:45 a.m. class. He held out optimism even though the Bulldogs came into Wednesday with an 11-game losing streak against ranked opponents.

"We've probably got the best bench in the nation," said Sykes, who pointed out freshman guard Barry Stewart as an example. Stewart is averaging 12.1 points per game off the bench, the second-leading freshman scorer in the Southeastern Conference.

David Adams, a junior mechanical engineering major, showed up to the gate at 3:30 p.m. and said at least 60 people were in front of him. Adams brought a gator doll hanging by its neck on a fishing pole as a prop.

"I got the idea in Sunday School, believe it or not," Adams said.

Corso in town

ESPN College Gameday football analyst Lee Corso was in town, but did not attend Wednesday night's game.

Corso spoke to a student group at Mississippi State on Wednesday afternoon and later served as the keynote speaker at an annual state-wide financial planning and insurance seminar.

During the address, Corso credited former Florida coach Ron Zook for recruiting 22 of the 24 starters on Florida's national championship football team.

Wooden watch

Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer are all among the top 50 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the top player in college basketball.

The list is expected to be pared down to its midseason 30 by the end of this month.

Late tipoff

Tipoff of the game was delayed 11 minutes due to broadcast reasons. The Kentucky-Georgia game, which preceded Florida-Mississippi State as a televised doubleheader on Lincoln Financial Sports, went into overtime.

Contact Kevin Brockway at 374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com.

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