On paper, this win is no different than Mississippi State’s last home victory against the Florida Gators. On paper, Mississippi State defeated their 10th Top 50 RPI Team of the season. On paper, this game is no different than the 23 other wins the Bulldogs have won on the regular season. But this game felt different. And it always has coming into this season.
Every fan circled this game coming into the 2018 season. Everyone wanted to beat South Carolina after 3 heartbreaking losses, each on a stage that got bigger and bigger. Did Mississippi State avenge the losses? I wouldn’t say State did completely. Losing the National Championship will always sting, but winning on February 5th became more than just getting revenge. In Schaefer’s own words “you showed the country what Mississippi State University is all about”:
It was the best college basketball atmosphere I have witnessed. It was the most fans that have ever attended a basketball game in the 43 year old history of the Humphrey Coliseum. It was according to many fans “the loudest it has ever been”. I myself did not realize how loud the coliseum was until after I left. My ears were ringing, my legs were sore, and my heart was still racing from all of the excitement. I felt as I did after I witnessed the Alabama football game in 2017. Except this time there were no cowbells involved. Yes indeed the Humphrey Coliseum is a special place to witness a basketball game when the crowd is there, and the students are there to lead them.
One thing that has been evident this season as compared to others, is the support Mississippi State Coaches of other sports are supporting each other. New Head Football Coach Joe Moorhead was at the game, helping Coach Schaefer hand out free pizza to the students who had waited hours to get inside. And Head Baseball Coach Andy Cannizaro gave a pregame speech to the Mississippi State Bulldogs that you do not want to miss:
To say this is the case at every university is a flat out lie. Just look at what has happened historically with Connecticut. Former Connecticut Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun once mocked Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma and his Women’s Basketball Fans as “the World’s largest nursing home”. When asked about his relationship with Calhoun, Auriemma responded: “Jim has a problem with anyone else’s success, not just ours. Do we get along? No, but we don’t have to”. This is quite a polar opposite from the relationship Ben Howland and Vic Schaefer have shared. With Schaefer tweeting big support for the Men’s Basketball Team and Howland doing the same including last night:
The best part of this current Women’s Basketball team is that this is just one moment. One that we will all remember for years to come, almost like “the shot”. And while the goal of beating South Carolina has been accomplished, this win gives the opportunity for State to achieve a very important goal: the School’s first Regular Season Southeastern Conference Championship. That win put every SEC team but Georgia 3 games behind Mississippi State. Georgia is currently 2 games behind Mississippi State, and they already lost to State in Athens 86-62 in Athens. If Georgia were to drop another game between today and Sunday February 18th, a home win vs #15 Texas A&M would clinch the Southeastern Conference Championship for Mississippi State. That would be a huge milestone for this program. The SEC Tournament is also in reach for Mississippi State. And this team is a National Championship Contender. State is in great position to achieve all of their goals this season. But tonight is a moment that should not be forgotten. And if anything, this maybe a game you point at that led you to achieving all of your goals, including the first ever National Championship of any Sport for Mississippi State. And there may not be a team that has deserved it more than this group of ladies who represent the university at its absolute highest.