Mississippi State set to take on top-seed UConn
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) Breanna Stewart and the UConn Huskies aren't focused on their place in women's basketball history just yet.
The Huskies, who have won the last three national championships, are staying in the moment.
''What means more to us, right now, we're just chasing one,'' Stewart said. ''The other three we have, which is, I mean we sound selfish every time we say it, but that's the truth.''
It almost seems to be an annual rite of spring that UConn is in the Sweet 16.
The top-seeded Huskies (34-0) are making their 23rd consecutive appearance in the regional semifinals and will face fifth-seeded Mississippi State on Saturday. This is only the second time that the Bulldogs have advanced this far. The winner will face Texas or UCLA on Monday night in the regional finals.
While the Bulldogs didn't make it past this round in their previous appearance in 2010, UConn is just four victories away from an unprecedented fourth straight national championship.
''Everybody knows that we're trying to do something that's extremely difficult to do, that's win a national championship,'' coach Geno Auriemma said. ''As I told the players on the team, our three seniors are about as good as it gets and if we get everybody else to do their part, then we're going to be OK.''
Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer knows his team will have to be at its best to pull off the upset. While the Bulldogs (28-7) never faced UConn before, Schaefer did as an assistant coach for Texas A&M in 2012. He remembers the 30-point drubbing the Aggies took.
''The last time I came in here it was my way or the highway and we got shown the highway,'' he said. ''It was a layup drill. That didn't work real good with that team.
''The thing that you get concerned about in this environment with this team is that you can work on things for five days and have all the confidence in the world, then get in this ballgame and you have a couple turnovers, it's a layup. They hit back-to-back 3s, it's a 10-0 run in a minute. You're on your heels.''
Other tidbits from the Mississippi State-UConn matchup:
LIKE WOODEN: Auriemma admitted he couldn't name any parts of UCLA coach John Wooden's pyramid of success. He did know what he and the iconic coach have in common.
''My pyramid of success is the same as his,'' Auriemma said. ''His was Alcindor, Walton, and Gail Goodrich, and you name them down the line. Mine is Diana, Maya, Stewie, that's my pyramid of success. And I think that's every great coach's pyramid of success.''
FIRST MEETING: The Bulldogs are 0-10 all-time against top-ranked teams.
''We're pretty excited that we're playing a team that we haven't seen, not only this year, but haven't seen ever.'' Auriemma said. ''That's good.''
RARE DOUBLE: Mississippi State is trying to pull off a rare feat by beating both Tennessee and UConn in the same season. The Bulldogs topped the Lady Vols for the first time in school history this season. According to STATS LLC, in the last decade only six teams have done it (North Carolina, Duke, LSU, Stanford, Notre Dame and Baylor).