About the Lady Rebels:
The Lady Rebels have won three games after losing the SEC opener against Vanderbilt, a team that Mississippi State upset. They feature Bianca Thomas, the SEC leading scorer, and feature one of the more explosive offenses in the SEC. The Lady Rebels employ a four-guard lineup which makes them a fairly tough match-up for slower teams. If needed, they also have size off the bench with Nikki Byrd and Kayla Holloway both of whom stand 6'4. The Lady Rebels are an up-and-coming team looking to make the NCAA tournament for the first time under head coach Renee Ladnor who took over after the 2006-2007 season.
Projected Starting Line-Up:
About the Lady Bulldogs:
The Lady Bulldogs are coming off a disappointing loss against Florida in which they were expected to win. The loss against the Lady Gators is a game that come back to haunt them if they are on the bubble to make the tournament. They have to rebound from the tough loss and move forward. The Lady Bulldogs are still without the services of TySheka Grimes who should provide a boost once she returns from her foot injury. With Grimes out, the Lady Bulldogs have had to go small, inserting Diamber Johnson in the starting lineup and sliding Armelie Lumanu to small forward. And Lumanu has responded with two straight double-doubles.
Projected Starting Line-Up:
Mississippi State ... Senior Guard Alexis Rack, the SEC's second leading scorer, is my player to watch for the Lady Bulldogs. While she has not played well of late, this is a game that could recharge the batteries. Rack will go face to face with the top scorer in the SEC Bianca Thomas and that would juice up any player that is a competitor. I expect Rack to have a big day as Coach Fanning-Otis needs her to get out of her funk and take control in this game.
Ole Miss ... Senior Guard Bianca Thomas is the player to watch for the Lady Rebels as she is the leading scorer in the SEC. The Lady Bulldogs will have their hands full stopping this 5'10 sharpshooter. How the Lady Bulldogs contain her could be the determining factor in the outcome of the game.
This series has traditionally been dominated by Ole Miss but the Lady Bulldogs swept them last season. The match-up between these two teams comes at a critical juncture for both teams as Ole Miss wants to extend their three-game winning streak and Mississippi State is looking for a good win on the road to increase their chances to make the NCAA tournament. These two teams are evenly matched size-wise and statistically across the board as the two are virtually right behind each other in every team stat category in the SEC. The Lady Rebels do have one decided advantage, they have a stronger bench than the Lady Bulldogs. But I feel that the bench scoring won't have a big impact on the game. I honestly expect this game to turn into Rack versus Thomas as the inner competitor in both will come out and try to prove who the better scorer is. Whoever wins the scoring battle between those two, then their team probably wins this game.
Jeremiah Short is a columnist who covers various Mississippi State sports for GenesPage.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org