Mississippi State women’s basketball embracing opportunity of Puerto Rico Clásico

Mississippi State women’s basketball is set for a pair of tough tests this weekend, traveling to take part in the Puerto Rico Clásico. 

It’s a nice opportunity for the Bulldogs to escape the seasonal cold weather but also a test against quality opposition. After a nice win at home over a strong Colorado State team, Purcell was feeling positive going into preparation for their destination games. 

“It’s huge,” Purcell said of the opportunity to travel for a mini-tournament against Power Five opposition. “One, I love it just because I get some sunshine, there’s great food. Ahlana (Smith) is Puerto Rican, she was on the Puerto Rican national team, so she’ll get to go back down there and that area. It’s just great, it’s culture, right. These young women work so hard on and off the court, that when you can do a trip like this, it’s more than basketball. It’s life.”

MSU will face Georgetown and Nebraska with short turnarounds on Friday and Saturday, respectively, a test of the Bulldogs’ stamina and preparedness as well as their quality on the court. With just over 24 hours between games, it’s the kind of quick adjustment that provides excellent practice for a team with March Madness ambitions. 

“It’s huge because, to your point, you’ve got quick turnarounds,” Purcell said when asked about the value of the experience, “so I get to learn a lot about my team so then hopefully we can get to March so I can reference this back.”

Both Georgetown and Nebraska have three wins on the season, with 3-1 and 3-2 records respectively. Nebraska was ranked before losses to Creighton and Drake put the Huskers out of the top 25 polls and is coached by Amy Williams, an old friend of Purcell. The prospect of reuniting with his old friend is exciting for him, but facing off as head coaches for the first time

“When I first started in this business at Tulsa, she was an assistant,” he said. “Her husband was in my wedding, so we’re obviously great friends, and it’s going to be weird now me being a head coach having to compete. Obviously we’ll probably want to beat each other up, but I love Amy, I love Lloyd, her whole family. They’re an NCAA tournament team. She’s done an unbelievable job.”

Purcell had a lot of praise for Georgetown as an opponent as well, and he’s expecting a tough fight from the Hoyas from start to finish. He knows the Bulldogs will have to bring their best game to improve upon their current record.

Purcell also noted that Mississippi State will be watching the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving as it prepares for Friday’s game.  

“You better believe it,” Purcell said. “I’m going to bring my football jersey.”

Mississippi State tips off against Georgetown at 10 a.m. on Friday before turning to face Nebraska at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Both games will be available for streaming with a subscription to FloSports. 

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