It's rivalry Sunday in Starkville.
No. 14 Mississippi State welcomes instate foe Ole Miss to Humphrey Coliseum on Sunday as the Bulldogs look for their third win in four Southeastern Conference games this season.
So what do you need to know headed into Sunday's affair? Here's a quick look at the game:
- What: Ole Miss (7-1, 1-1) at No. 14 Mississippi State (7-2, 2-1)
- Where: Humphrey Coliseum – Starkville, Mississippi
- When: 5 p.m. central on Sunday, January 10, 2021
- TV/Video: SEC Network and online via the ESPN app
- Radio/Audio: MSU Radio Network
If recent history is any indication, Mississippi State is in good shape headed into Sunday's affair. The Bulldogs have absolutely dominated the Rebels in recent years. MSU has topped Ole Miss in each of the last 13 meetings.
Despite that though, State insists it won't be dropping its guard or assuming anything despite all the wins against the Rebels of late.
"Anytime there’s a rivalry game, that’s null and void. You’re just going to come out and play," MSU head coach Nikki McCray-Penson said. "It’s going to be a hard-fought game. They’re very talented. They have depth at every position. We’ve got to be ready to go. It’s a rivalry game, but at the end of the day, we have to put the focus on us and continue to improve every possession and each and every practice that we have a chance to."
MSU guard Myah Taylor feels the same way as her coach.
"They’re a lot better than they used to be," Taylor said of Ole Miss. "So it’s going to be a very tough game. But as long as we stick together and play as a team and do what we have to do and focus on us, I feel like we’ll get the outcome that we need. Ole Miss is just another game, another tough game in the SEC that we’re just going to get ready for. We’re going to try to stay level – not too high and not too low."
McCray-Penson and Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin are no strangers to one another as they get ready for their first-ever meeting in the women's basketball version of the Egg Bowl. When McCray-Penson used to be a South Carolina assistant, McPhee-McCuin was an assistant at Clemson and the two recruited against one another.
There seems to be a friendship and much respect between the two leaders of Mississippi's SEC schools.
"(McPhee-McCuin) is someone that I’ve admired from afar," McCray-Penson said. "She’s a mom. She’s a wife. She just works hard. Great person and just someone that has supported me throughout my career. Even when I got the job at Old Dominion, she was very supportive. And I think that’s really good to have that type of sisterhood where people are supporting you and can give you the right information all the time to help you continue to grow."
McPhee-McCuin was among those that contacted and offered congratulations to McCray-Penson soon after she was hired at MSU. on the other side of things, McCray-Penson has been impressed with how McPhee-McCuin is building up the Ole Miss program.
"She’s done a great job recruiting," McCray-Penson said of McPhee-McCuin. "She’s a hell of a recruiter. Her coaching staff has done a great job. They’ve got some great transfers. That’s what you’re supposed to do. You want to get your type of players in there. That’s what she’s done to be able to compete night in and night out at the SEC level."
Scouting the Rebels
If State is going to continue its winning streak against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs will have to topple what has been one of the country's best defenses. The Rebels own the NCAA’s 13th-best shooting defense (32.5 percent) and 14th-best scoring defense (53.1 points allowed per game) – the latter of which is the best mark in the SEC.
On the offensive side, Ole Miss is led by three players averaging double figures in scoring. Shakira Austin averages 19 points per game. Madison Scott averages 12.2 while Donnetta Johnson averages 11.6.
Scott is Ole Miss' leading rebounder with 7.8 per game, though Austin isn't far behind with 7.1 per outing.
PREGAME PRESS CONFERENCES
MSU head coach Nikki McCray-Penson
MSU guard Myah Taylor