Two of the top women’s basketball teams in the nation will be a long way from home for a holiday reunion tonight.
No. 19 Mississippi State (4-0) gets its biggest test of the young season against No. 13 Texas (2-1) in the first round of the Paradise Jam Tournament in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
It’s a relatively quick rematch of an NCAA tournament game from last season. In the first meeting of the teams, 11th-seeded MSU ousted sixth-seeded Texas 71-63 in another neutral site game, at Columbus, Ohio.
“You are playing a team that you beat in the tournament, so there is a lot of motivation,” said MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CST. An Internet audio brodcast will be available at www.mstateathletics.com, with a pay-per-view TV broadcast ($8) available from Fox College Sports Broadband (www.b2livetv.com).
Tonight’s game is the first of three games in three days against major-college foes for the Lady Bulldogs. MSU which is away from home for the first time this season, plays Rutgers (2-2) on Friday and Southern Cal (1-2) on Saturday.
“Every game as we go farther in our schedule is getting tougher,” said senior guard Alexis Rack, who’s coming off a career-high 43-point game on Sunday, in an 84-55 thrashing of Maryland.
Fanning-Otis framed that victory as the first of several successive tests for her squad.
“If you get ranked, you want to know how to move up,” she said. “You don’t just want to get in and get out for a week or let your play go down. … We now get ready for three more tests and they are more difficult tests because there is more experience on the floor.”
Against Texas, her team takes on a Longhorns squad with four starters 6-0 or taller. Head coach Gail Goestenkors can also go to her bench and play a pair of 6-4 centers.
Kathleen Nash, a 6-2 guard, leads the team with a 16.0-point average.
The Longhorns’ only loss came to top-ranked Connecticut, 83-58 on Nov. 17.
Rack is the SEC’s second-leading scorer with a 22.3-point average, just behind fellow senior Bianca Thomas (23.8) of Ole Miss. The Lady Bulldogs lead the SEC in scoring margin (40.8), a gaudy figure that’s liable to get whittled down some in the next three days.
NEMS Daily Journal