UK coming on at right time of year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

Kentucky’s trying to act like Kentucky in basketball. And as Mississippi State luck would have it, the Wildcats stopped playing dead at the right time to put away a Bulldog team that flashes really good on occasion.

It happened in New Orleans Sunday and as close games go, Mississippi State did keep it close against the Wildcats, falling to Kentucky 64-57. Trouble is, Kentucky refuses to lose, just about it. The Bulldogs tried hard but couldn’t dent Kentucky’s perfect league record.

SEC basketball was honestly quite a feature in the Louisiana Superdome, and those staging the big meet called it just that. Going to the so-called &uot;big dance&uot; is what all entrants shoot for, and State earned that.

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State head coach Rick Stansbury and his MSU Bullies are slated to play Butler. State’s fifth-seeded and Butler is seeded No. 12 Friday, and Bulldog fans hope that means a State victory.

You can’t argue with MSU’s men’s basketball program &045; they hold their own most of the time and go to big tournaments regularly. Maybe they’ll take this one, although their Kentucky play wasn’t up to snuff Sunday. That was last tournament; this week’s is another meet.

State historically plays well someplace along a tournament trail &045; perhaps that’ll be the case this week. Or this day!

Hurried Hash … Back in 1951, Natchez&160;High and Hattiesburg tied up in some really good Big Eight Conference (tournament and regular season) basketball games. I remember when Hattiesburg and star Jug Stiglets used to relish the fact they had somehow made it through the brackets to the finals against coach A.I. Rexinger and his Rebels.

Jug would make remarks like &uot;We guard players like Benny Jack Wilson when we play Natchez Coach A.I. Rexinger’s teams and let one or two others do what they can&uot;…Most of the time it didn’t work, though.

… One year (I can’t recall which one), NHS won three straight games to reach the finals over in Hattiesburg, then edged Jackson Central 45-41 for the coveted Big Eight basketball title. Benny Jack&160;Wilson, Rebel center, played steady ball that game in leading Natchez scoring with 15 points.

Team scoring did it for NHS, though, as Charles Gilbert added 12 and Johnny McLeod 11. I had many a fun night following Natchez High and Cathedral

back in those days… I enjoyed watching them and then scrambling to the Democrat newsroom to write about their exploits.

… Sam Randazzo, who was a special buddy that I used to play golf with at Duncan Park, passed away the other day. People always liked Sam. Vidalia, in fact, even elected him mayor of their fair city and loved to go to the grocery store and delicatessen he operated there.

I used to love to watch Sam after he hit a bad shot. I didn’t like to see him hit bad shots, but to watch him blame himself.

Don’t get me wrong &045; Sam didn’t cut up that bad, he simply worked so hard not to blow a shot at a key time. Sam was a couple of years, 77, younger than this &uot;old&uot; man, but we enjoyed struggling together on the golf course back when we were blessed with golfing times together.

So many people loved Sam! And his wife, Corinne; she and her daughters and grandchildren indeed had a special &uot;One&uot; in Sam Randazzo. His tenure in Vidalia as one of the most popular mayors and merchants ever &uot;over there,&uot; stamped him as one of the area’s most-remembered people. Friendly, remembered, San Randazzo!

Glenvall Estes is a longtime columnist for The Natchez Democrat.