Last Sunday in Knoxville TN, many Tennessee fans were accustomed to a top 5 team playing an unranked team in the Mississippi State Tennessee series. What they weren’t used to was MSU being the top 5 team and Tennessee being the unranked team. The Bulldogs defeated Tennessee by a final score of 74-64. But the story to me is not just the fact that they won for the first time ever in Knoxville TN. Its the fact that MSU won because of their depth.
Indeed the starters were struggling a bit in the first half. While Victoria Vivians did have an impressive 20 points in the game, she did only shoot from 28%(which getting 20 points on 28% shooting is amazing in itself). Chinwe Okorie got into foul trouble which forced Teaira McCowan to play the majority of the game. And McCowan herself had a great day offensively and defensively.
While the starters struggled in the 1st half, Schaefer used Blair Schaefer, Roshunda Johnson, and Jazzmun Holmes at the end of the 2nd quarter. They indeed looked like the starters as they gave MSU the lead to go into halftime. Something else noteworthy in the game is that MSU had 2 buzzer beater 3 pointers at the end of the 2nd and 3rd quarter.
Yes I understand most fans were probably watching the NFL Playoffs during this time, but this team is so exciting to me that the NFL Playoffs took a backseat.
So what do I think of this team after this big win? You can see for yourself that this team is National Title Contender. Their goal is to win SEC Reg/Tourney titles and get a number 1 seed. As far as challenging games left, you do play Texas A&M twice, Kentucky on the road, South Carolina on the road, and Tennessee comes back to Starkville for the last conference game of the season. The South Carolina game is basically going to determine the SEC Regular Season Champion. That game is not unwinnable by any means for MSU. MSU is better than last season, and SC has already lost a game this season(only lost to UCONN pre-NCAA Tournament last year). In fact MSU played SC better than any SEC team last year. This team will make a big run in the Tourney win or lose this game and it will certainly be the SEC game of the year. But we will come back to this match up when it comes closer in time.
I really don’t see another loss for MSU on the schedule. Texas A&M and Kentucky do not appear to have teams like they have had the past few years if you watch them. I will say that things can change before MSU plays either of those teams, but it doesn’t seem likely that it would prevent MSU from winning. As for SC they play at UCONN later in the season but that game has no effect on the SEC Standings. And I don’t see them losing a game beyond UCONN or possibly MSU. I know the SEC has been good in women's basketball. But do remember that there are only two ranked teams at this point, and they appear to be above and beyond the rest of the competition.
There are 2 great Basketball Teams at the Humphrey Coliseum this year, so be sure to see both! MSU hosts Florida on Thursday Night and Ole Miss on Monday Night(a day off because of the holiday for most people) so the Hump needs to be rocking for both of those games. Also NO NFL Games conflict with the home game so 0 excuse for attendance. Before State heads to Columbia SC, they will be playing in Tuscaloosa next Thursday January 20th. Any Birmingham/Tuscaloosa fans should make the trip to see this team so that way MSU can have the most fans once again in Tuscaloosa! Plus for Golden Triangle fans its only an hour and a half trip. You will want to watch this team in person because if there is one thing I know this team will do this season, it will make history.