STARKVILLE • Alabama’s big three will pose a tough test for the Mississippi State women’s basketball team tonight.
No. 14-ranked Mississippi State (8-2, 3-1 in SEC) hosts Alabama tonight at Humphrey Coliseum at 7 p.m. It’ll be broadcast online at SEC Network Plus.
Alabama, which sports a 10-1 overall record and a 3-1 mark in SEC play, is led primarily by three players.
Senior forward Jasmine Walker, senior guard Jordan Lewis and senior forward Ariyah Copeland are averaging a combined 51.8 points and 22.1 rebounds per game. They are the only players scoring in double digits for the Crimson Tide.
“They are who they are and they do what they do,” MSU coach Nikki McCray-Penson said on Wednesday. “Sixty-four percent of their offense goes through their three players and they understand how to get them the ball and when and where. We know we have to handle their big three.”
This isn’t the first time Alabama’s trio has visited Starkville.
Alabama upset Mississippi State last season, 66-64, at The Hump. In that game, Walker and Lewis scored a combined 37 points and shot 13 of 29 from the floor and 7 of 10 from 3-point range.
The two also combined for six steals and one block in the game.
“They’re going to mix up their defenses and they are a team where they are going to be very strategic in their shot selection,” McCray-Penson said. “They don’t take a lot of bad shots. They’re very poised and very experienced and they are better. We have to be ready.”
One of Mississippi State’s biggest weaknesses this year has been rebounding. MSU is only out rebounding teams by 4 a game, and the Bulldogs have given up too many offensive rebounds this year.
Mississippi State has given up double-digit offensive rebounds in six of its 10 games this year, including three of the four SEC games. MSU gives up 11.8 offensive rebounds a game.
Alabama’s big three have combined for 69 offensive rebounds this year, led by Walker’s 35 and Copeland’s 27. The Crimson Tide are averaging 41.4 total rebounds and 12.2 offensive boards a game.
After being held to only 4 and 7 offensive rebounds in the first two SEC games, Alabama tallied 11 against LSU and 16 against Vanderbilt on Sunday.
“Our ability to rebound the basketball is going to be key for us,” McCray-Penson said.