Tipoff for the rematch is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss., where the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 82-74 to open SEC play on January 5th. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 51-43 in game two at Auburn Arena.
Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy
"We have to get our kids to understand, and we've explained it to them, that this is a brand new season," Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy says. "We will look at what we did well and look at things that they do against the press, but at the end of the day it's a whole new team."
Mississippi State brings a 21-13 record into the contest after defeating Southern Miss 74-66 in overtime on Monday night in a second round WNIT game.
The Bulldogs' victory total is the fourth highest in school history. "This is an exciting time for us at Mississippi State," says Coach Vic Schaefer. "We are looking forward to another great challenge.
"Obviously, there is some familiarity with (Auburn)," he said. "They have done a good job in two games against us. They are very talented, long and athletic, and they play very hard defensively--very similar to how hard we play defensively."
The Tigers come into the contest with a 19-14 record after defeating Old Dominion 78-64 on Monday night. Auburn outscored the Lady Monarchs 51-32 to take command of the contest.
"I thought we played extremely well in the second half and I thought we came out with a sense of energy and a sense of urgency," Williams-Flournoy said. "We knew were much better than (the first half) so let's go out there and pressure as good as we can and let's push in transition."
The second-year Auburn coach has been making heavy use of her bench players in the WNIT games. In a change from the regular season, freshman Allina Starr has been playing significant minutes at point guard along with Kiani Parker and Meagan Tucker.
"We're just playing by committee right now," Williams-Flournoy said. "Whichever point guard is playing well that's the one that's playing right now"
Nobody on the team is playing better than All-SEC senior Tyrese Tanner, who says that she is not ready for her college basketball career to end. Williams-Flournoy notes that Tanner is doing whatever she can to help the Tigers succeed in postseason.
"You can see that at practice," the coach says. "She is constantly talking to them letting them know that they are playing for a championship. She's playing like her last game will be a win."
Tanner has 1,504 career points, which is 10th in Auburn history, and her 571 rebounds ranks 24th on Auburn's career list.