Rebels look to stun No. 6 Bulldogs in Pavilion

Posted on Feb 21 2019 - 5:50am by Jack Gentry

The Ole Miss women’s basketball team, 9-17 (3-9), faces yet another tall task Thursday night

when No. 6 Mississippi State, 23-2 (11-1), comes to Oxford with a ton of confidence in its

back pocket.

Head coach Yolett Mcphee-Mccuin yells to players from the sideline during the game against Texas A&M, Feb. 3, 2019. The Rebels will play #6 Mississippi State tonight after a loss to Georgia on Monday. Photo by Christian Johnson

This marks the second meeting between the in-state rivals this season; the Bulldogs took the first matchup and defended their home court with a dominating 80-49 victory. The two teams opened the season on opposite ends of the rankings, with Mississippi State picked to defend its SEC title from last season and the Rebels selected to finish last in the conference.

Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin is not backing down from the challenge the Bulldogs

present for her team.

“I’m also aware that they’re a top-10 team in the country, but that’s why we play the game,” the Rebels’ head coach said. “If our kids can’t get excited … and compete, then they’re at the wrong place.”

Mississippi State has the luxury of rolling out a frontrunner for the Naismith Award, which goes to the best player in the country. Teaira McCowan, a 6-foot-7-inch center, is averaging 16.8 points per game and a staggering 13.6 rebounds per game, which ranks second in the nation. McCowan torched the Rebels in the first meeting, finishing with 13 rebounds and a season-high 33 points.

McPhee-McCuin knows that stopping McCowan is an enormous challenge for any team in the

country, but keeping her in check will be important if the Rebels want to have a chance.

“I love her game and her presence,” McPhee-McCuin said. “I am not trying to come up with a game plan to stop her; I am trying to come up with a game plan to limit her.”

Rebels’ guard Shandricka Sessom has a few ideas on how to make life tough on the Bulldogs’ center in The Pavilion.

“When she’s on the court, we can make her uncomfortable by boxing (her) out, making it tough for her to get catches (and) not allowing her to get deep seals,” Sessom said.

MSU’s Anriel Howard enters the contest scoring at a clip of 15.9 points per game while hauling 8.1 rebounds. Jordan Danberry, with 13.1 points per game, and Chloe Bibby, with 11.9 points per game, round out the quartet of Bulldogs scoring in double figures this season.

Three Rebels finished in double figures in their first matchup, with Crystal Allen leading the way with 15 points and followed by La’Karis Salter and Shannon Dozier, who finished with 13 points apiece.

Sessom was noticeably quiet in the first battle, only scoring three points. This time around, Ole Miss could use a strong performance from Sessom, who is second on the team scoring at a clip of 10.8 points per game. A strong performance from Sessom could be what gives the Rebels a chance once the fourth quarter rolls around.

This will be the third matchup against a top-10 team for Ole Miss this season. The team suffered blowout losses to then-No. 1 Connecticut in November and to Mississippi State on Jan. 27 with an average margin of defeat of 35.5 points in those two contests.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in The Pavilion and will be televised on SEC Network Plus.