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Bulldogs ready for raucous crowd at Pittsburgh

[03/19/01] Mississippi State has another NIT matchup that would have been more interesting on the football field.

The Bulldogs (17-12), who beat Southern Miss in the opening round Wednesday, will try to overcome their road woes at Pittsburgh (19-13) Monday night in the second round of the NIT.

The winner will advance to face the Tulsa-Minnesota winner later this week in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.

State football coach Jackie Sherrill won a national championship with the Panthers in 1979 and many fans have been pushing for a renewal of the MSU-USM rivalry for the last few years.

On the court, MSU won just two of its 10 road games this season. The anthers, on the other hand, have been red hot, winning seven of their final nine games and narrowly missing an NCAA Tournament bid.

Home teams went 11-3 in NIT opening-round games.

Pittsburgh had 5,200 fans in its first-round win over St. Bonaventure, which is why it earned the right to host the second-round game.

“We knew there was a chance we’d have to go on the road at some point if we wanted to make it to New York,” MSU junior Marckell Patterson told The Clarion-Ledger. “You’re never going to get anything easy. And if we’ve proven anything this season, it’s that we don’t like anything easy.”

MSU coach Rick Stansbury isn’t worried about the crowd.

“This team has grown up in a lot of ways the last two months of the season,” said Stansbury, who took the Bulldogs to Pittsburgh Saturday to get them accustomed to the arena. “They’ve been through enough to know exactly what it’s going to take to accomplish the goals they’ve set … .”