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Oklahoma State gets second shot at beating Mississippi St


March 18, 2018

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Oklahoma State has plenty of size, good 3-point shooting and a veteran point guard who is unafraid of playing in a big game.

In other words, the Cowgirls look quite a bit like top-seeded Mississippi State.

Mississippi State faces No. 9 seed Oklahoma State on Monday night in the second round of the women's NCAA Tournament.

It's the second time these two teams have played in Starkville this season and if the first game is any indication, this matchup won't be an easy one for the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State cruised past No. 16 seed Nicholls 95-50 on Saturday to advance to the second round. Oklahoma State was dominant in its impressive 84-57 win over No. 8 seed Syracuse to set up Monday's game against the Bulldogs.

"They're playing at a really high level," Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. "They came in here, and to me, they looked really focused and I'm sure our game here hasn't left their mind. They played us awfully well and they probably want another shot."

Mississippi State narrowly beat Oklahoma State 79-76 in Starkville back in December. It was the smallest margin of victory for the Bulldogs during their 32-game winning streak to start the season.

Mississippi State (33-1) draws some of the biggest crowds in the nation and more than 10,000 are expected at Humphrey Coliseum for Monday's game.

But Oklahoma State (21-10) didn't seem to mind the hostile environment back in December and now gets another opportunity for the big upset.

"We know their program is built on defense and Vic always has his teams ready," Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said.

"But you never know. I told our kids I know they've got a great team. You don't win the SEC and (33) games without being incredible as a team, having good players and being really well coached.

"But we're excited about being here and having the opportunity to play. Crazy things happen in this game."


Here are a few more things to watch during Monday's game:

EYES ON HOBBS: The biggest reason Oklahoma State cruised to an overwhelming win over Syracuse was the play of guard Jaden Hobbs. The 5-foot-8 freshman — who was averaging just four points per game — scored a career-high 27 points against the Orange, making 8 of 9 shots from 3-point range.

BLAIR SCHAEFER HEATING UP: Mississippi State guard Blair Schaefer had some of the best games of her career during the first two rounds of last year's NCAA Tournament, scoring 39 points over two games. She was at it again on Saturday against Nicholls, scoring 18 points and making three 3-pointers. Mississippi State is led by guard Victoria Vivians and center Teaira McCowan, but Schaefer's ability to stretch the floor is crucial for the Bulldogs.

THE PREVIOUS MATCHUP: Oklahoma State senior guard Loryn Goodwin was tremendous in the first matchup between these teams on Dec. 3, scoring 35 points on 13 of 29 shooting while also grabbing 10 rebounds and four steals. Mississippi State was able to escape with the 79-76 win thanks to Vivians, who scored 30 points on 11 of 20 shooting. Roshunda Johnson added 18.

VIVIANS' CAREER MILESTONES: Vivians has 2,420 points after scoring 20 against Nicholls. The 6-foot-1 guard needs just two points to pass Tan White for No. 2 on Mississippi State's career scoring list. The Bulldogs' leading scorer is LaToya Thomas, who scored 2,981 points from 2000 to 2003. Vivians has the most points for active players in the Southeastern Conference and is third nationally.


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