"(Southern Miss) is a very competitive team even though their record is 3-3 right now," said MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis. "They are going to run, they are going to press you full court. This team may be pressing more full court than any of the teams that we just saw in the last three games. They have balance scoring. They are a very physical team. They are going to play exceptionally hard."
The Lady Bulldogs had a tough time of it at the Paradise Jam, losing all three games - 73-55 to Texas, 62-54 to Rutgers and 64-60 to Southern Cal. State was plagued with cold shooting during the three-game tournament, shooting 32.2% for the tournament.
"We'll learn from it and move on," said Fanning-Otis. "We played three good basketball teams. This was sort of a dress rehearsal for the SEC Tournament and your SEC schedule. Hopefully, this will help us learn how hard you have to play.
"Texas' game didn't break to a six or seven point game until right at the end of the first half. Before then, it was back and forth. Rutgers was a different style, different type team. They switched out a lot. Southern Cal was a big basketball team.
"Those three teams were very good basketball teams who played hard. We learned some valuable lessons that will help us win some basketball games down the road."
The Lady Eagles also played in a tournament this past weekend, hosting the 21st Annual La Quinta Inn Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic. They lost in the championship game 84-55 to the 14th ranked Georgia Lady Bulldogs.
On the season, the Lady Eagles are led in scoring by senior Pauline Love who is scoring 18.7 points per game. She also leads them in rebounding with 13.7 rebounds per contest. Also scoring in double figures for the Lady Eagles are junior Tanesha Washington who is scoring 10.8 points per game and freshman Danielle Johnson, who is scoring at a 10.0 points per contest clip.
"Love is one of the best players we will play all year," said Fanning-Otis. "She is playing sort of a four-type position for them, but she can shoot from downtown. And she drives, she posts well, she runs the floor hard. How do you defend Love? Someone better know where she is.
"But if you think she is the only person, then you are going to miss out on what their team does.
"Washington is at the other four, five spot and is just a banger. And (senior Candace) Rucker (averaging 9.7 points per game) is as good of an athlete as we we will play against. She transferred in there from Colorado last year."
The senior dominated Lady Bulldogs also have three players scoring double digits points this season, led by senior All-SEC performer Alexis Rack's 18.9 points per game, followed by seniors Tysheka Grimes with 13.0 points per game and Armelie Lumanu with 12.0 per contest.
"Things that we do are for balance," said Fanning-Otis. "We've had almost five people in double figures for the majority of the games."
The Lady 'Dogs, who are averaging 1,592 fans per game, is 4-0 in home games this season, including an 84-55 victory over the Maryland Lady Terps who were ranked 20th in the nation at the time.
"It's good that we are going to be playing at home," said Fanning-Otis. "The crowd makes a difference in our wins. I know that sometimes people really feed off of wins. And we really let folks down in terms of not coming back with a number of wins. But I hope that they see that those were quality opponents and come back and support us. We are a good basketball team that can be a very, very good basketball team. We just have to get back on track. And we need folks here."
This will be the 36th meeting between the two in-state rivals. The Lady Bulldogs trail in the series 13-22 but are 8-8 in games played on their home court.
"Anytime you play a regional rival, whether it is in-state or a state that borders your state then your mindset is a lot more focused," said Fanning-Otis. "I do know that this (will be) a very competitive, physical game."