MSU basketball teams support each other

MSU's Aric Holman (35) shoots against Arkansas.
Staff Writer

Basketball is going well at Mississippi State right now.

The women’s team is ranked in the top five of both major polls nationally with a 16-0 overall record, while the men have gotten off to a 13-1 start headed into today’s key Southeastern Conference game against rival Ole Miss in Oxford.

Junior Bulldog Aric Holman said it’s fun to be a part of basketball success at the school and it has made for a little bit of friendly competition between the men and women to see how far they can take the winning ways.

“They are always the hot team around here and now we’re starting to step up so it’s a great feeling,” Holman said.

Both MSU teams picked up SEC victories this week against Arkansas with the men earning a 78-75 win on Tuesday, then the women followed that up by defeating the Razorbacks 111-69 on Thursday night. The nation was watching both games as they were televised by the SEC Network.

Coming off a Final Four season where they played South Carolina for the national championship, the Bulldogs of coach Vic Schaefer haven’t missed a beat so far this season. They have two conference wins under their belt with also a 86-62 win over Georgia in Athens.

Schaefer has gone from a more defensive-minded unit of last year to a group with an improved offensive skill set with a four-guard lineup and Teaira McCowan at center.

Is Schaefer’s team better than last year. He said that’s still to be determined.

“It’s yet to be decided if we are better,” Schaefer said earlier this week. “We’re just scoring more points. That’s where we are right now. I don’t know if we are better or not, but year’s past …  I love those teams. I love how tough those kids were and just their competitive spirit. That’s hard to replace. I think what we are is we have more shooters on the floor right now surrounding T (McCowan) and T is better also. You can’t overlook the fact that T is a much better basketball player.”

The Mississippi State women’s senior class has won 105 career games, which is second in the SEC and  and sixth most in the nation.

Schaefer doesn’t want the Bulldogs to be satisfied moving forward. They travel to LSU on Sunday.

“You always want them to want more, you always want them to understand how special and what the opportunity is, but kids are kids,” Schaefer said. “You don’t know what sometimes they are thinking. That has to do with maturity and leadership. Those are going to be the keys to how good a year we have.”

Whatever happens, the men will be there to support the women.

The family atmosphere with State athletics exists across the board, but Holman said it's especially true with basketball.

“I treat them all like little sisters and big sisters,” Holman said. “We’re just like a big family. We cheer each other on. We are always at their games and they are at our games.”

Men's coach Ben Howland has enjoyed following Schaefer’s Bulldogs and how they go about their business.

“It’s fun to watch their program," Howland said. "They do such a great job with game preparation. They have really good players and good kids. I’ve really enjoyed watching what Vic has been able to do with the women’s program – making them a national powerhouse here in Starkville.

"It has been super impressive and I don’t think it stops anytime soon. This team they have this year is really special. Victoria Vivians is one of the best players in America. She’s such a great leader. Obviously inside, they have one of the best centers in the country. They are an impressive team to watch. I think our community really is enjoying basketball here in Starkville right now."