Oklahoma State no pushover for Mississippi State

Published 8:00 am Monday, March 19, 2018

STARKVILLE (AP) — Oklahoma State has plenty of size, good 3-point shooting and a veteran point guard who is unafraid of playing in a big game.

In other words, the Cowgirls look quite a bit like top-seeded Mississippi State.
Mississippi State faces No. 9 seed Oklahoma State Monday at 8 p.m. in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

It’s the second time these two teams have played in Starkville this season, and if the first game is any indication this rematch won’t be an easy one for the Bulldogs.

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Mississippi State cruised past No. 16 seed Nicholls 95-50 on Saturday to advance to the second round. Oklahoma State was dominant in its impressive 84-57 win over No. 8 seed Syracuse to set up Monday’s game against the Bulldogs.

“They’re playing at a really high level,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “They came in here, and to me, they looked really focused and I’m sure our game here hasn’t left their mind. They played us awfully well and they probably want another shot.”

Mississippi State narrowly beat Oklahoma State 79-76 in Starkville back in December.

Oklahoma State senior guard Loryn Goodwin scored 35 points on 13-of-29 shooting while also grabbing 10 rebounds and four steals. Mississippi State was able to escape thanks to senior guard Victoria Vivians, who scored 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting. Roshunda Johnson added 18 points.

It was the smallest margin of victory for the Bulldogs during their 32-game winning streak to start the season.

Mississippi State (33-1) draws some of the biggest crowds in the nation and more than 10,000 are expected at Humphrey Coliseum on Monday night.

But Oklahoma State (21-10) didn’t seem to mind the hostile environment back in December and now gets another opportunity for the big upset.

“We know their program is built on defense and Vic always has his teams ready,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said.

“But you never know. I told our kids I know they’ve got a great team. You don’t win the SEC and (33) games without being incredible as a team, having good players and being really well coached.

“But we’re excited about being here and having the opportunity to play. Crazy things happen in this game.”

This will be the last home game for Mississippi State’s outstanding senior class, and in the storied career of Vivians.

The four-time Gillom Trophy winner as the best college player in Mississippi has 2,420 career points after scoring 20 against Nicholls. The 6-foot-1 guard needs just two more to pass Tan White for No. 2 on Mississippi State’s career scoring list.

The Bulldogs’ all-time leading scorer is LaToya Thomas, who scored 2,981 points from 2000 to 2003. Vivians has the most points for active players in the Southeastern Conference and is third nationally.
Vivians is looking to leave Starkville on a memorable note.

“I thought about it not too long ago, that this is going to be my last time playing here ever,” Vivians said. “I feel like it’s going to be great. I hope we come out with the win. I hope we come out on a good note, too.”

• NCAA Tournament, second round
• Monday, 8 p.m., at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville