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By DANNY P. SMITH
The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs know what they are capable of doing.
Mississippi State had the fifth-ranked team in the country on the ropes Thursday night before letting it off the hook in the second half.
The Lady Bulldogs took a 37-35 lead into the halftime intermission against the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, but collapsed in the second half to lose an 81-55 decision in Knoxville.
A complete effort today against the Florida Lady Gators at Humphrey Coliseum could result in the first Southeastern Conference victory of the season for MSU (8-11, 0-7). Tipoff for the "Think Pink" breast cancer awareness game on ESPNU will be 1 p.m.
"We're working on putting two good halves together," Lady Bulldog senior Mary Kathryn Govero said. "We know when we do that, we're going to see the results we want."
At one point against Tennessee, MSU held as much as a 33-25 lead, but were out-scored 28-4 to fall into the hole.
The Lady Bulldogs are hoping the hard knocks being taken in the league will serve them well down the stretch of the season.
"I'm hoping that we're getting better," MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "There's a lot of room for this team to grow. You have to play with confidence. When you play in our league, it's so physical there and you can't get tired."
Junior Diamber Johnson of Pontotoc leads the Lady Bulldogs in scoring with 11.7 points per game, while Govero, who will be recognized prior to today's game for going over the 1,000-point mark, averages 11.3 points per outing.
Florida, coached by Amanda Butler, brings records of 13-9 overall and 3-5 SEC to Starkville. Jordan James leads the Lady Gators with 10.1 points per game.