The University of Arkansas at Little Rock women's basketball team does not host teams such as Mississippi State often.
But the Arkansas ties between Mississippi State and UALR run deep. Trojans Coach Joe Foley and Bulldogs Coach Vic Schaefer, two longtime friends who golf with each other whenever possible, know what to expect from the other sideline.
"We know what we're getting into," said Schaefer, a former six-year assistant coach at the University of Arkansas from 1997-03 when Foley was Arkansas Tech University's coach from 1987-2003. "He's consistently won everywhere he's been. And won championships. That's the thing that sets him a part from a lot of coaches in this industry."
No. 6 Mississippi State, which has appeared in two consecutive Final Fours, will travel to Little Rock to meet Foley's Trojans (2-3) at 6:30 tonight inside the Jack Stephens Center.
Why is the country's sixth-ranked team coming to Little Rock?
The answer is Joe Foley.
"For us, we've got to play good people," Schaefer said. "Little Rock is good people. They're a good team. They're well-coached. They're going to be well-prepared. They're going to be successful. It's a win-win for both of us."
"You won't see teams like this very often," Foley said. "Unless we get [the University of] Connecticut in here or Notre Dame -- this may be the best team in the country."
UALR's disadvantages against Mississippi State are glaring.
The Bulldogs, who have won 42 consecutive regular-season nonconference contests, are loaded with height.
Teaira McCowan, a 6-7 senior center, will be the tallest player on the floor. Jessika Carter, a 6-5 freshman backup to McCowan, will be the second tallest player on the floor.
The Bulldogs' height advantage is lopsided.
"Yeah," Foley said, "they've put together a great team this year.
"We've played them the last two years. I thought last year's team was pretty special. Sure enough, it was. But I think from what I see on film, this team is even better. They've got a legit shot."
Foley said Mississippi State (6-0), which is 9-0 all-time against the Trojans, sports one of the toughest defensive teams in the country. The Bulldogs lead the nation in blocks (59) and blocks per game (9.8).
McCowan's 4.0 blocks per game lead all players in Division I. Carter's 3.2 blocks is fifth nationally.
"You want to win every game, but you know the odds sometimes are stacked against you," Foley said. "You're going against 6-7 -- we don't have a 6-3 or 6-4 even to compete against 6-7, we're going to be 6-1. That's going to be a huge advantage."
Mississippi State ranks inside the NCAA's top 15 in 17 statistical categories, including second in scoring offense (97.5 points per game) and fourth in scoring defense (44.5 ppg), bringing the Bulldogs' average margin of victory to 53 points.
They are also third in field-goal percentage defense (27.7 percent) and third in rebounding (50.0 rebounds per game).
"We're just trying to go out there and learn from it," Foley said.
Today’s women’s game
NO. 6 MISSISSIPPI STATE AT UALR
WHEN 6:30 p.m.
WHERE Jack Stephens Center, Little Rock
RECORDS Mississippi State 6-0; UALR 2-3
Sports on 11/28/2018
Print Headline: Tall task for UALR women