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MSU women want to follow first SEC win with another

January 31, 2013

Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer shows his intensity while working the sideline. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

The Mississippi State women's basketball team want to follow its first Southeastern Conference win with another.

After taking an emotional 72-57 decision over rival Ole Miss last Sunday, coach Vic Schaefer was proud of the way the Bulldogs went out in the second half, played determined basketball and got the job done.

In the SEC, there's not much time for celebrating and Schaefer knows MSU must step up its game even more if it's to have success against the league-leading Tennessee Lady Volunteers tonight on the road.

The Bulldogs and the Lady Vols tip at 6 p.m. in Knoxville's Thompson-Bowling Arena.

"All I know is that our kids had a lot of success in a lot of areas (against Ole Miss) and we are going to show that to them, make sure they see it and understand," Schaefer said. "The biggest thing I want them to get out of (Sunday) – it wasn't given to them. They went, earned it and paid a price. There is a price to pay for victory, especially in this league. They are not going to give you a win. You've got to go earn it. That's what we've been constantly trying to teach throughout the entire process. That's the case in life, business and in the sport arena. It just isn't given to you."

MSU (9-11 overall, 1-6 SEC) has never beaten Tennessee in 33 tries. If the Bulldogs are to accomplish the task this time, they must get a another strong performance out of Martha Alwal, Kendra Grant, Carnecia Williams and Katia May. All of those players scored in double digits against the Rebels.

May said MSU can be hard to beat when they are all clicking like they were against Ole Miss.

"It helped establish us as a team," May said. "(Grant) is starting to shoot more. We pushed it a lot this game and we were more patient and calm. Martha was asking for the ball."

Alwal had the most impressive outing by matching a career-high with 23 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. She became the first Bulldog player since LaToya Thomas to get 10 double-doubles in one season.

Not only was Alwal scoring points and grabbing boards, but she also set the single-season sophomore blocks record with 46.

"She altered shots and she blocked shots," Schaefer said. "There's no telling how many she altered. She won't take a charge to save her life or mine, but she alters shots and blocks shots.

"Carnecia, on the other hand, is going to take charges and she had some really big rebounds in the second half (against Ole Miss)."

The sophomore duo of Grant and Alwal average 12.6 and 12.2 points per game, respectively.

Even though Tennessee lost a 77-67 decision to Notre Dame, it still sports a top 10 ranking (No. 9) and a perfect 7-0 in SEC play. The Lady Vols are 16-4 overall.

"You're going to play a top 10 team on the road," Schaefer said further in a MSU release. "(Tennessee coach) Holly Warlick and her staff are doing a great job coaching that team and getting them to play hard. You don't see any drop off from them.

"We have to go in there with the mindset that you have to cut down on turnovers, get a good shot and keep them from getting second and third shots. We are going to have to take care of the ball and be the aggressor, attacking pressure with pressure."

The Lady Vols are rolling with the best offense in the league, scoring 81.1 points per SEC outing. That point production is helped with a conference-best 74.8 percent number from the free-throw line.

Meighan Simmons averages 17.3 points per game to pace Tennessee.

Following tonight's game, MSU returns home to face Arkansas Sunday. The game tips at 2 p.m. and is scheduled for SportSouth television.

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