JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Home may not be so sweet for the Jackson State women’s basketball team on Thursday as the Lady Tigers expect to have a sizable away fan contingent at the Williams Assembly Center.
After four games on the road to open up the 2019-20 season, JSU at long last gets its home opener, but also gets a vaunted opponent in No. 10 Mississippi State.
“To have a team of this caliber in our gym means a lot,” said JSU coach Tomekia Reed. “We know that there are going to be some challenges. They have a winning tradition about themselves, so we understand what those challenges are going to be.”
While a unique event in that this will be just the third time this decade that JSU and Mississippi State square off, and the first time in Jackson, going up against a ranked opponent is almost old hat at this point. Through just four games this season, the Lady Tigers have already faced two teams in the top 25, a 83-68 loss at No. 18 Miami and a 91-51 defeat on the road last Friday at No. 21 Indiana.
This gauntlet of a non-conference schedule was something that Reed never planned on. She of course wanted her players to face premier competition, but never in her wildest dreams did she think that her team would be sharing the floor with three ranked teams within the first month of the season.
“When the polls came out, I was like ‘oh my goodness’,” said Reid. “It’s turned out to be a really good thing for us. We have to make sure confidence is there and we applaud the good that they do (even in a loss). So we focus on getting better in small areas."
Reed has nothing but praise for MSU coach Vic Schaefer, who is returning the favor to JSU after his Lady Bulldogs schedule needed a home game at the last minute. Mississippi State beat Jackson State last season in what was the first game between the two teams since 2013. As the relationship between the two programs continues to blossom, Reed believes that growth and success of the Lady Bulldogs can only mean good things for the growth of her program and basketball in the state.
“They’ve done so much for the state in terms of girls basketball,” Reed said of Schaefer. “Our players at the high school level are now working so much harder because they know that there are viable options to stay in state and play at the college level.”
Tip-off between the Lady Tigers and Lady Bulldogs is set for for 7 p.m.