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MSU women look to bounce back at Kentucky

January 8, 2012

(Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Mississippi State's Diamber Johnson was feeling "the pain of regret" after Thursday night's 53-48 loss to LSU.

The senior point guard of the Lady Bulldogs had scored a season-low six points in that game and knew it wasn't good enough to be able to compete in the Southeastern Conference.

MSU, which stands 10-4 overall after dropping its first league outing, gets another chance today at 11th-ranked Kentucky. The tip is set for 2:30 p.m. and will be televised by SportSouth.

"Sometimes it takes losses like (LSU) to make you realize how badly you need to work on things," Johnson said.

Johnson suffered through a poor shooting night for the Lady Bulldogs, only hitting 3-of-11 from the field and missed both 3-point field goals she attempted.

MSU women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis was disappointed in Johnson's play, especially down the stretch when the game was on the line.

"We talked to Diamber and I think a point guard on your team has got to want the ball," Fanning-Otis said. "I don't think she wanted the ball initially down the stretch. (It's) not to score necessarily, but it is if you can get around someone to make sure you've got your team doing what you want them to do."

With senior guard Porsha Porter being sick and not at 100 percent, it was the hope of Fanning-Otis that Johnson would have emerged as a leader in that situation.

"She's got to have that mindset," Fanning-Otis said. "It's going to have to be for 40 minutes or however long it takes. It is her role and something she's going to have to step up to help this basketball team."

Johnson averages 17.4 points per game and the Lady Bulldogs need for her to approach a performance closer to that mark if they are to upset a top-ranked team on the road.

The Lady Wildcats have records of 13-2 overall and 2-0 in the SEC after Thursday night's 84-72 win against Arkansas.

Fanning-Otis said MSU doesn't have time to feel sorry for itself and has to get over the LSU loss quickly.

"It's the starting point in the league," Fanning-Otis said. "You've got to find a way to get better, iron out some of these things and play for 40 minutes.

"You have your work cut out for you the next time you play. (Kentucky is) a little bit different type of team. They run base line to base line, but also a very physical team. Somehow we need to make this game up on the road because you just don't drop them at home."

Kentucky is led by A'dia Mathies with 15.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

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