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Lady Bulldogs, Lady Tide search for first SEC victory

January 11, 2012

MSU women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis shows emotion at courtside. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Two Southeastern Conference women's basketball teams needing a win play each other tonight in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs have lost its first two conference games, a tight one to LSU and a blowout to Kentucky, while the Alabama Lady Crimson Tide have not won in three league outings.

Something has to give when the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Tide meet at 8 p.m.
When it comes to winning, MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said everything has to fall into place to make it happen.

"It's a standard each time you play," Fanning-Otis said. "You have to defend, block out and get to the free-throw line. You have to find open people, get assists and play for 40 minutes. We're anticipating to have that intensity and execution."

That was something the Lady Bulldogs did not have much of during Sunday's 88-40 loss at Kentucky.

Fanning-Otis doesn't want her team to forget how bad the score looked and expects for it to respond in a positive manner.

"I hope it sticks in their craw for a while until the next time they face a team," Fanning-Otis said. "I'm going to try and turn something that's negative into some type of positive and make it a learning tool. What are we going to do with this?

"What we have to do is refocus after every game and be ready to play the next game. You try to do that with your practice efforts, through communication and focusing on who your next opponent is. You learn from the past, but you don't live in it. You have to focus on what your goals are for the year and one thing doesn't set you back or take you where you want to be. It's a process and you go one day at a time."

One issue that MSU and Alabama have both had to deal with is lack of health.

Several members of the Lady Tide have been hit with the injury bug and it has caused coach Wendell Hudson to adjust.

"Some of the things that have happened from the health standpoint is something we've just got to deal with," Hudson said. "We've just got to make adjustments on how we're going to go about trying to play, maybe change a little bit and play more from a standpoint of zone or a full-court tempo game."

Hudson said some players are taking on different roles. Some are being asked to play more minutes or out of position.

Going from offense to defense, Hudson has had the responsibility of finding the strengths and weaknesses of his squad during this time.

"The biggest problem we've had is rebounding the basketball and blocking out," Hudson said. "From the offensive standpoint and looking at the film, we've gotten open shots but just haven't converted them."

In the Kentucky loss, the Lady Bulldogs were without senior guard Porsha Porter. She started to feel ill in the SEC opener against LSU, but didn't even make the trip to Lexington because of fever.

It's Fanning-Otis' hope to have Porter back in the lineup for Alabama, which stands at 10-7 overall.

"Basically (Porter) was leading us in a majority of categories in the last five games up until that point," Fanning-Otis said. "Being sick against LSU, I really praise her for stepping up and trying to play hard but she was unable to make the next trip."

Fanning-Otis knows the the Lady Tide are going to present a different challenge to MSU so preparation was important.

The Lady Bulldogs, who are 10-5 overall, find out if it was good enough for the Fox SportsNet telecast.

"Alabama is a team that plays inside and outside and pushes it," Fanning-Otis said. "They have good depth and a lot of rotations, but I'm looking more inwardly to our basketball team and how we are going to focus, play hard, play smart, play together and find a way to win ballgames. We're hoping to be our best effort thus far and find a way to win a ballgame."

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