Southern (78) at Mississippi Valley State (70) OT 01/15/18

53 of 351  15% complete

This was the first of three games on the Mississippi trip. After a round of golf the day before, I was ready for some hoops.

Mississippi Valley State resides in the western part of the state known as the delta. The Mississippi River is just a few miles west of the campus. The surrounding land is flat and open. We stayed overnight in Greenwood which advertises itself as the “Cotton Capital of the World”. I am making the assumption that this is a poor area of the state by the simple fact that there were no chain or local restaurants along the main road near campus (places like Chili’s, Outback, Applebees, etc.). After the game, we could not find an open bar and pub to eat. We settled for SONIC as the best choice among the fast food places open.

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I have learned along this journey that it is okay to chat up Operation 351 to anyone who you think might be interested. I will give you an example here and one later in the Mississippi State blog post.

We are in the hotel elevator before the game heading to our room. With us is a tall man dressed in a Southern University looking outfit. It turns out that the visiting Southern team was staying in our hotel. I told the gentleman my mission story. He was an assistant coach and offered us free tickets to the game. As he put it, “No one from Baton Rouge is coming up here to see us. We need all the help we can get”. More on that later.

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The pep band provided ample entertainment before the game. Many of the band members were rap dancing in the aisle to the rap music provided by a DJ. MVSU wins hands down as the best pep band to date. The drum line was loud and impressive along with the twerking dance team.

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So let’s paint a picture here. My friend Tony accompanied me on the three Mississippi games this trip. He owns a second home in Madison and provided a home base for our trips.  Tony and I felt indebted to the Southern coach who provided us the free tickets. But here was the problem. Tony and I were the only Caucasians in the crowd except for a couple of team managers. I am okay with that. There were no problems. Everyone was super nice to us. However to stand up and cheer for Southern when literally no one in the crowd was a Southern fan just felt like it would bring some unwanted attention to us.

MVSU’s record was 0-17 going into this game. They were one of six schools that were winless so far this season. I also contemplated rushing the court with the MVSU fans if they broke their losing streak. Again I could just hear the comments on the ESPN Sport Center replay with us sticking out like a sore thumb on the court.

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This was my first overtime game in Operation 351. I really wanted MVSU to win but they fell short in the end. My player of the game goes to MVSU Jordan Evans who scored 41 points. MVSU would have won if he touched the ball every time. TRIVIA – Jerry Rice attended MVSU.

I was so impressed with the band that I bought a raffle ticket for a TV  to benefit the band but found out later it was for the benefit of the dance team. Figuring out how to get a TV from Mississippi to Connecticut would be a nice problem to have.

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Next game : Vanderbilt at Mississippi State 01/16/18

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