After taking down then #7 ranked South Carolina on Monday night in Humphrey Coliseum, Vic Schaefer and the #2 ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs women’s basketball team is now headed to battle the Florida Gators in Gainesville.
Records and Rankings
- Record: 24-0 overall, 10-0 SEC
- Rankings: 2 AP/ 2 Coaches
- Record: 10-13 overall, 2-8 SEC
- Rankings: None
Things to Watch For
- Teaira McCowan’s matchup against a much shorter Florida front court. It’s no secret that Teaira McCowan is tall. And at 6-7, the star center can have a tremendous impact against just about any team. In tonight’s matchup, there’s really nobody that can contend with McCowan. Florida has a pair of senior forwards in Paulina Hersler and Haley Lorenzen who will be given the task of trying to manage McCowan, but both Hersler and Lorenzen come in at 4 inches shorter than McCowan. Lorenzen and Hersler are averaging a combined 24.6 points and 16.2 rebounds per game, but it’s not clear if they can contend with McCowan who is averaging 19.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game on her own.
- Mississippi State’s depth versus a relatively inept Florida bench. All of Florida’s starters are averaging double digits when it comes to scoring, which is actually a pretty cool feat. It’s something that Mississippi State can’t claim since Morgan William is averaging 7 points per game. However, the Gators’ leading scorer is only putting up 14.2 points per game. That would be good for only third if that scoring total was on Mississippi State’s team. Victoria Vivians is averaging 19.6 points per game and, as was previously mentioned, McCowan is scoring 19.3 points per game. In addition to that, Florida’s bench is only scoring a meager 9.8 points per game. The Bulldogs’ bench is scoring 23.5 points per game.
- Whether or not this game is more competitive than the last matchup between these two teams. On January 25th, the Bulldogs defeated Florida by an astonishing 37 points, the largest margin of victory between these two teams since the Gators beat MSU by 50 back in 1996. Florida is currently on a 4 game losing streak to Vic Schaefer’s team, with the average margin of victory for State being 22.25 points in this stretch. The last time a game in this series was decided by single digits was in 2016 when MSU won by 6 points in Gainesville.
This game shouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Bulldogs. Florida is currently on a three game skid that started with the aforementioned 37 point beatdown back in January. However, their struggles are not isolated to those games alone. Since conference play has started, the Gators have seemed lost in the wilderness, winning only 2 of their last 10 games. In those 10 games, Florida is scoring 59.6 points per game while their opponents are scoring 68. The Gators are hitting an abysmal 37.6% of their shots and 26.2% of their three pointers.
Mississippi State, however, has excelled in SEC play. The Bulldogs are averaging 78.5 points per game while they’re holding their opponents to 57.6 points per game. MSU is shooting 45.9% and 39.3% from behind the arc in conference play. Given that the Bulldogs are significantly more productive scoring, have a couple of incredible advantages in Teiara McCowan and in terms of depth, and the Gators are slumping right now, this game should be another blowout for MSU.
Give me Mississippi State 81 to Florida’s 57.