After all the SEC games became finals on Sunday, MSU, Florida and LSU (16-9, 8-6) finished the regular season tied-fourth in the overall Southeastern Conference standings. Due to tie-breaking procedures, LSU earns the No. 4 seed and receives a bye in the first round while MSU, the No. 5 seed, faces No. 12 Kentucky in the first round and Florida, the No. 6 seed, will tip-off with 11th-seeded Auburn.
State's lone senior Jennifer Fambrough returned to the line-up for the Lady Bulldogs after missing the last four games because of back surgery. Picking up where she left off, Fambrough contributed 18 points, her league high this season, and grabbed eight boards in 30 minutes of play. She told the media after the game that she felt good and was looking forward to playing in the tournament next week.
Although Fambrough made a statement on senior day, it was a junior who stole the show for the Lady Bulldogs. Two-time all-American LaToya Thomas recorded her 13th double-double of the season beating her previous high of 12 double-doubles last season. Her 40 points and 14 rebounds led all players. It marked the second time this season that Thomas has scored 40 or more points in a game, both times vs. SEC teams since she scored 43 points against Georgia earlier this season.
Thomas was a perfect 12-12 from the charity stripe, which places her in the record books as the third Lady Bulldog to shoot more than 10 from the line perfectly. For the third straight year, she again placed herself in the records by class section of MSU history by breaking former Lady Bulldog Mary Boatwright's record for 689 points by a junior in 1980. As for the overall single-season mark, Thomas, who now has 698 points this season, trails her record-setting total of 752 points from last year.
For the first time this season, freshman sensation Tan White was held to single digits. Her eight points broke a 27-game double-digit scoring streak. She led the team with four assists and grabbed nine rebounds in her 38 minutes of action.
Florida put two players in double figures in the scoring column. Brandi McCain, who played the full 40 minutes, led the Lady Gators with 23 and five assists. The SEC's leading rebounder, Vanessa Hayden, chipped in 18 points, but was held to just seven boards after fouling out with eight minutes remaining.
With the its fifth-seed, the Lady Bulldogs will face Kentucky in the first round of the 2002 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Steve Ellis will call all the MSU action at the tournament with the first game slated to begin at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28, in the Gaylord Entertainment Center in downtown Nashville.