STARKVILLE • No matter the sport, any time Ole Miss and Mississippi State get together to compete there’s an added energy due to the rivalry between the two schools.
Lately in women’s basketball, however, the two programs are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Vic Schaefer has constructed the currently ninth-ranked Bulldogs into a perennial national power during his eight seasons in Starkville while Yolett McPhee-McCuin is still trying to establish a foundation in her second year as Ole Miss’ coach.
Although MSU has won 11 straight over the Rebels, Schaefer will make certain his team is focused on the task at hand today at 4 p.m. on SEC Network.
“In these types of games, sometimes anything can happen,” Schaefer said. “It’s a meaningful game to a lot of people. I think for our kids and where we are with our program right now, it’s a meaningful game because it’s the next game for us. We need to win. We’re at home on a Sunday afternoon and we expect 10,000 in the Hump. That in and of itself is important because we’re trying to get to 6-1 in the league.”
Schaefer’s message seems to haven been received loud and clear by his team, which is attempting to win its third straight Southeastern Conference title.
“We’ll treat it like another game that’s in front of us,” said MSU guard Myah Taylor. “This game means a lot to a lot of people but we’ll just take the challenge and be poised because it’s just another game.”
The Bulldogs are 17-3 overall on the season and features three players producing in double figures. Jordan Danberry tops the team averaging 14.1 points per game followed closely by Rickea Jackson and Jessika Carter with 13.1 and 12.9 points, respectively.
Danberry averaged 16 points in State’s sweep of the Rebels last season. The Bulldogs won 80-49 in Starkville and also 80-66 in Oxford.
Ole Miss (7-12, 0-6 SEC) is still in search of its first conference win. The Rebels rank last in league shooting just 29.8 percent and scoring 43 points per game in SEC play.
Some of Ole Miss’ struggles can be attributed to the large amount of turnover the program has experienced over the past two years. The Rebels entered the season with only three returning players that saw the court for McPhee-McCuin last season.
DePaul transfer Deja Cage paces Ole Miss, averaging 13.3 points per game. The only other Rebel that was scoring in double figures, Valerie Nesbitt, left the program earlier this month.
Ole Miss is looking for its first win against the Bulldogs since 2014 and first in Starkville since an overtime victory in 2007.