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By DANNY P. SMITH
Something must give tonight when the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs host the Alabama Lady Crimson Tide.
One of those teams will get its first Southeastern Conference victory of the season.
The Lady Bulldogs have lost all eight of their conference games to this point, while the Lady Tide have gone nine up and nine down in the league.
Both squads seek to end nine-game losing streaks when they meet at Humphrey Coliseum. The tip is set for 7 p.m.
MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said the SEC is an unforgiving league that doesn't slow down for everyone to catch up.
"There's nobody in this league that's not playing hard together," Fanning-Otis said. "It is maturity and a mindset. It is something you have to challenge themselves with."
The Lady Bulldogs (8-12 overall) are coming off a 67-60 loss to the Florida Lady Gators at home last Sunday.
Junior guard Portia Porter, who had 18 points for MSU against Florida, said there were lapses that cost the Lady Bulldogs a victory.
"We were lax on possessions, but it's a process," Porter said "It's going to take a lot of effort and energy to reach another level. We've just got to work. We're not working hard enough to get the whole 40 minutes. Hopefully, we'll get that against Alabama."
Porter, Diamber Johnson and Mary Kathryn Govero will be the starting MSU guards, while Ashley Brown will begin at forward and Catina Bett will be the center.
After her 22-point effort against the Lady Gators, Govero leads the Lady Bulldogs with 11.9 points. Johnson chips in 11.6 points per outing.
Only averaging 57.7 points as a team, MSU looks to step up the offensive production.
"They have to want to punch as far as their energy," Fanning-Otis said. "When you have all of them getting to the point where you have that energy, then this can be a good basketball team, but until that point there are going to be some weaknesses there and stretches where we'll come up null and void with what we need to have."