Paul Boyd is a sports reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was voted Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2018.
SEC Women's Basketball Report: Bulldogs manage adversity
Mississippi State guard Caterrion Thompson (23) during an NCAA basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Mississippi State overcame a depleted roster to win back-to-back games last week, but its game against Kentucky scheduled for tonight has again been postponed due to covid issues within the program.
It’s the second time the Kentucky-Mississippi State game has been postponed. The two teams were supposed to play Jan. 2, but it was pushed to tonight because of covid issues within the Kentucky program.
Mississippi State (11-4, 2-1 SEC), which suited up only eight players and had only two coaches, was missing its top two scorers, yet came away with the win over Alabama. Senior guard Anastasia Hayes led all scorers with 22 points, while Myah Taylor added 14 points, 7 steals, 6 assists, and 2 blocked shots. Taylor, who tops the SEC averaging 6.1 assists per game, rolled her ankle with one minute left in the third quarter, yet came back in the fourth quarter and scored three points, had four steals and had the game-winning blocked shot to seal the win.
The Bulldogs again played shorthanded on Sunday, this time playing with two coaches and just seven players, the minimum scholarship players allowed per rules. Hayes again led the Bulldogs offensively, setting a season high in scoring with 31 points. Hayes scored 16 of her 31 in the second half. Caterrion Thompson hit a late three-pointer to tie the game at 52 and spark a 14-0 run by the Bulldogs to take the lead for good.
Hayes played all 80 minutes over the last two games, while three others played 67 minutes or more.
The Gators (11-5, 1-2) erased a 19-point second-half deficit on Sunday to knock off the then-No. 25 Aggies 97-89 in double overtime for their first win in College Station in program history.
Florida also did it two days after losing leading scorer and rebounder Lavender Briggs for the season because of a stress reaction in her leg.
Guards Zippy Broughton and Kiara Smith formed a spectacular 1-2 punch to help Florida rally from a 55-36 third-quarter deficit. Broughton, making just her third start, poured in a career-high 28 points, while Smith added 27 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
Florida Coach Kelly Rae Finley said her team showed tremendous resilience.
“Prior to this game, we talked about who we are as a team and what we wanted to look like on the court,” Finley said. “We wanted to be all that we are: Relentless, determined, energetic and unbreakable. I feel like we showed that we are all those things and more.”
The Aggies’ Qadasha Hoppie hit two free throws with two seconds left in the first overtime to force a second extra period. But Florida forced back-to-back turnovers and scored four straight points to start the second overtime and never looked back.
Guard Que Morrison notched her fourth consecutive double-digit scoring performance to help Georgia rally past Alabama on Sunday.
The graduate student poured in 21 points, including 3-of-3 from the three-point line, to help the Bulldogs (13-3, 2-2) erase a 21-point, first-half deficit. Alabama still led 56-50 after three quarters, but Georgia kept pushing to earn the win.
Morrison and Jenna Staiti each hit two free throws in the final minutes to secure the win.
Movin’ on up
LSU guard Khayla Pointer finished just shy of a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in the Tigers’ win over Auburn, but moved to No. 3 on the all-time assist list in Baton Rouge.
She moved past Erica White with 521 career assists and needs 49 to catch Pokey Chatman. All-time leader Temeka Johnson’s total of 945 is safe.
Bringing the ‘D’
South Carolina allowed two top 25 opponents just an average of 57.0 points per game over the past week.
The Gamecocks were especially locked in with a 74-54 win over Kentucky. They held the Wildcats to 29.6% shooting and held reigning SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard to nine points on 2-of-14 shooting.
South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston helped the Gamecocks to a pair of big wins against ranked opponents to earn SEC Player of the Week honors. She scored 9 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked 2 shots in the fourth quarter in her team’s win over LSU. Boston scored 10 of the team’s 18 first-quarter points against Kentucky on 5-of-6 shooting and nearly completed a double-double by halftime with 10 points and eight rebounds to go with three blocks.
Mississippi State’s Denae Carter helped her team to a pair of SEC wins despite being short-handed last week to claim the league’s Freshman of the Week honor. She played 34 and 35 minutes respectively and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win over Vanderbilt. Carter’s minutes were especially huge since the Bulldogs had just seven players available against Vanderbilt and eight vs. Alabama.
Game of the Week
No. 19 Kentucky at No. 5 Tennessee, 2 p.m., Sunday (ESPN)
Rhyne Howard and the Wildcats will try to slow down the Lady Vols in the lone matchup of ranked teams in the SEC this week. Tennessee is off to a 4-0 start in the league after a 70-58 win over Ole Miss on Sunday on the strength of Jordan Horston’s double-double.
By the Numbers
10 Number of starting lineups Texas A&M has used this season
11 McDonald’s All-Americans on South Carolina’s 16-person roster
12.9 Rebounds per game averaged by Missouri’s Aijha Blackwell, which leads the SEC
13 Three-pointers made by Florida in its win over Texas A&M, which was a season-high
From top to bottom
RK. NET TEAM RECORDS COMMENT
1 1 S. Carolina 15-1, 3-1 Dawn Staley has Gamecocks going strong
2 7 Tennessee 15-1, 4-0 Fast start propels Vols to win over Ole Miss
3 16 LSU 15-2, 3-1 Tigers falter against South Carolina
4 42 Kentucky 8-4, 1-1 ’Cats have game postponed, again
5 20 Georgia 13-3,2-2 Bulldogs rally past Bama
6 38 Ole Miss 13-2, 1-1 Lady Vols’ fast start dooms Rebels
7 62 Miss. State 11-4, 2-1 Big fourth quarter keys win over Vanderbilt
8 30 Arkansas 11-5, 1-2 Neighbors’ group avoids 0-3 start in league
9 39 Texas A&M 10-5, 0-3 Aggies off to slow start in SEC
10 45 Missouri 13-3, 2-1 Tigers couldn’t slow Razorbacks
11 47 Alabama 10-5, 1-3 Alabama hit 14 three-pointers vs. Georgia
14 87 Florida 11-5, 1-2 Gators earn tough win against Texas A&M
12 65 Vanderbilt 10-6, 1-1 Iyana Moore scored 20 in loss at Miss. State
13 95 Auburn 8-6, 0-3 Tigers’ SEC struggles continue
NOTE: The NCAA instituted last season for women’s college basketball, a rating system called the NET Rankings, which took the place of the Ratings Percentage Index. An acronym for NCAA Evaluation Tool, the NET rankings take into account game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency and the quality of wins and losses.
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