Steve Robertson, Gene's Page

Mississippi State has UConn’s attention

DALLAS, TX - Last season, in the NCAA Tournament, the University of Connecticut women's basketball team easily defeated Mississippi State 98-38. This year’s Connecticut players don’t see the same type Mississippi State team from this year’s squad.

“They are a different team than they were last year, just as we are a different team,” said UConn junior forward Gabby Williams, who played 17 minutes against MSU last season, scoring seven points. “They have more experience and a lot more confidence. They are playing with a chip on their shoulder now. We aren’t going to be able to play them like we did last year.”

One player that has really impressed Williams is Mississippi State junior point guard Morgan William.

“What Morgan William did (in the Baylor game when she scored 41 points) was incredible,” said Williams. “That is the kind of game that you can only dream of having.”

UConn junior center Natalie Butler, who scored six points and pulled down eight rebounds in 14 minutes against MSU last season, agrees about the play of William.

“They have an incredible point guard who is very quick to the ball, almost to the point where she is unguardalble,” said Butler.

Butler is also very impressed with State’s post players.

“The number one thing you notice about them is they are a really big team,” she said. “They have very talented post players that a lot of teams don’t have.”

UConn sophomore guard/forward Katie Lou Samuelson is impressed with the depth that Mississippi State has.

“They have a lot of depth on their team,” said Samuelson, who scored 21 points in UConn’s NCAA route against MSU last season. “It is not just one person that we have to focus on. We have a lot of different people that we have to focus on. We are really going to have to make sure our defense is on point.”

Kia Nurse, a junior guard for UConn, also likes the mental attitude of the Mississippi State team.

“They have a will to win and they found a way to get it done (in their NCAA Eilite 8 win) against Baylor (last weekend),” said Nurse, who is one of two players who, along with Samuelson, are the two current UConn players who started against MSU last season in their Sweet 16 win against the Bulldogs. “They never stopped pounding Baylor with their (defensive) pressure and offensively. That is what impressed me the most.”

UConn senior guard Saniya Chong sums up what she expects from the game.

“It is definitely going to be a challenge,” said Chong. “We are all excited and ready for it.”

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