Women’s SEC play tips off tonight

By Parrish Alford and Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

SEC women’s basketball play opens tonight with Ole Miss at home and Mississippi State on the road.

MSU (13-1) is off to the best start in school history and carries a six-game winning streak into a 6 p.m. tipoff at Florida (10-3). Ole Miss (9-5) hosts Missouri (11-2) at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs and Rebels have already equaled their win totals from a year ago.

Tonight’s SEC slate includes one Top 25 matchup, as No. 16 LSU (10-2) visits No. 5 Tennessee (11-1).

A quick update on the Bulldogs and Rebels:

8TB6_MSU_primary_logoMississippi State: This is the 11th time in 13 years that the Bulldogs will begin conference play on the road. MSU went 5-11 in SEC play last season, its first under coach Vic Schaefer.

The Gators won last year’s meeting, 61-55 in Starkville, and leads the series 23-18.

Martha Alwal, a 6-foot-4 junior center, paces State in scoring (17.0) and rebounds (8.8) and share the league lead in blocked shots (2.4). Florida (10-3), also on a six-game winning streak, has five players averaging double figures led by Jaterra Bonds (16.7).

OleMissLogoOle Miss: The Rebels had a slow (1-4) start for first-year coach Matt Insell but won seven of their last eight to close 2013.

The most impressive outing in that span may have been an 87-80 loss at No. 9 Baylor, in which Ole Miss led most of the way.

The Rebels are coming off a 96-69 win over Austin Peay on Monday.

Senior guard Valencia McFarland scored 22 points in the victory, her fifth 20-plus scoring game this season and the 18th of her career. She leads the Rebels in scoring (16.1).

The Rebels’ Tia Faleru, a 6-foot-1 junior, leads the SEC in rebounding (10.2)

Missouri is 11-2 under veteran coach Robin Pingeton, now in her 18th season.

Missouri won 73-72 in overtime last season in Oxford. The series is tied, 1-1.