Bailey Howell will be celebrated Saturday

Bailey Howell, from when his MSU jersey was retired.
Bailey Howell, from when his MSU jersey was retired.

Special from Mississippi State

STARKVILLE, Miss. — More than just basketball will be on display Saturday when Georgia invades Humphrey Coliseum for a 2 p.m. SEC tilt against Mississippi State.

At the final media timeout of the first half, MSU President Mark E. Keenum will lead the crowd in a celebration of the renaming earlier this year of Coliseum Drive on the MSU campus as Bailey Howell Drive in honor of the former MSU and NBA basketball great and Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer.

Voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997, Howell was a two-time All-American with the Bulldogs in 1958 and 1959, earning consensus honors both as a junior and senior. He was selected first-team All-Southeastern Conference each of his three varsity seasons at MSU and ranked among the nation’s Top 10 statistical leaders in both scoring and rebounding all three years, totaling 2,030 points and 1,277 rebounds.

Following his illustrious collegiate career, the Middleton, Tenn., native was drafted in the first round of the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, before gaining fame with the Boston Celtics, where he won two world titles and was a six-time all-star.

Howell, who now makes his home in Starkville, had his No. 52 jersey retired in 2009.

“I can think of nothing more fitting than to name the street which runs in front of our basketball coliseum in honor of one of the very best ever to play the game at Mississippi State, indeed one of the very best ever to play the game of college basketball, Bailey Howell,” Keenum said. “I believe this honor is something the MSU family will deem most appropriate and long overdue.”

On the court, the Bulldogs (9-9, 2-3) are riding the momentum of a two-game winning streak following their 78-71come-from-behind win at Auburn on Wednesday. Sophomore guard I.J. Ready paced MSU’s effort with an 18-point performance, including four free throws in the closing minute to secure the win. Inside, forward Gavin Ware collected his 11th double-double all-time with 16 points and career-best 17 rebounds.

“He is a guy that can be a really good player for us,” MSU coach Rick Ray said of Ware. “He just has got to make sure he stays on task all the time. Anytime he is in the game, he is a post threat.”

Georgia (12-6, 3-2) is enjoying a winning streak of its own, as it collected its third straight on Tuesday after rallying to beat Ole Miss in Athens, 69-64.

Marcus Thornton leads the Bulldogs in both scoring (14.1) and rebounding (7.4), while Kenny Gaines is averaging 11.9 points, followed by Charles Mann at 11.7.

Georgia leads the overall series 54-53 after sweeping MSU last season. It’s also won the last two at Humphrey Coliseum and only once has it won three-straight at the Hump — 1989-91.

The game will be televised by Fox Sports South, with James Bates and Daymeon Fishback handling the broadcast. Fans can also catch the game on the radio with the tandem of Jim Ellis and Richard Williams handling the call.

After Saturday, Mississippi State returns to the road where it will face arch-rival Ole Miss on Wednesday in Oxford.

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