Coaches, players preview second round of the NCAA Tournament

Head coach Vic Schaefer coaches his team during MSU's win during the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Both head coaches and members of the Oklahoma State University (21-10, 11-7 Big 12) and Mississippi State University (33-1, 16-0 SEC) women’s basketball teams met with the media on Sunday.

The teams will face each other at 8 p.m. on Monday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.           

MSU head coach Vic Schaefer discussed the upcoming matchup.

“We’ve got a really good Oklahoma State team in front of us. I think they’re playing really well right now,” Schaefer said. “I think they like to play fast. I think Oklahoma State likes to get it up and down, and I think that they can do a great job.”

Schaefer believes controlling the pace will dictate the outcome of this game.

“I think you’ve got to pick and choose your spots,” Schaefer said. “We always want to dictate the pace of play, whatever it is, and I think we’ve done that in 33 ball games. We didn’t do it in one ball game [the SEC Championship game against South Carolina], and it cost us.”

The teams have played each other in Starkville already this season during the Big 12/SEC Challenge on December 3. MSU won the game 79-76, but it was one of the few close games this year.

“We’ve had a little experience with each other earlier in the year, had a pretty good ball game,” Schaefer said.

Oklahoma State head coach Jim Littell said he does not put much stock into what happened the last time the two teams met.

“I think it’s a new setting and new ball game,” Littell said. “Both teams have made adjustments in how they play. Vic (Schaefer) has done a great job preparing and coaching. He will have his team ready, and we will have our team ready. I don’t think we can draw as much off of November as everyone may think. It’s a new setting and new ball game.”

This will be the last game played in Humphrey Coliseum for this senior class. Senior guards, Victoria Vivians, Blair Schaefer and Morgan William said they have thought about the upcoming game.

“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 on a good note, too.”

“I think it will just be bittersweet, because hopefully it won’t be the end of the road for us,” said Blair Schaefer. “But to know that it’s sold out and we can have another great crowd for the last game at the Hump, that will be really special.”

Coach Schaefer said he could not allow himself to think about this final home game because of how special this class is to him.

“I really don’t want to think about that. I’m going to try like the heck to not think about that," Shaefer said. "Those kids are so special. It would really be a tremendous distraction… I’m going to choose to not think that way right now.”

The second round of the NCAA tournament will take place Monday, March 19 at 8 p.m. in Starkville. Limited tickets are available to students for $10 at HailState.com/tickets starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday morning. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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