STARKVILLE — Doug Novak is glad he doesn't coach football. The time between games, he said, is simply too long. When his teams have a poor result, he wants to get right back on the court.
That's what the Mississippi State interim women's basketball coach will get, immediately facing No. 13 Georgia on Thursday (6 p.m., SEC Network+) at the Humphrey Coliseum.
"To be honest with you, I'd rather not be playing the Georgia Bulldogs," Novak said. "I'd rather play one of those nonconference games so I feel a little bit better. This is a really good team, and there's a lot of similarities between that Ole Miss team and this team."
That's a potential problem for the Bulldogs (11-5, 2-2 SEC). That Ole Miss team cruised to a 15-point victory Sunday, exposing Mississippi State's lack of size down low with forward Shakira Austin scoring 21 points.
Georgia (14-3, 3-2) has forward Jenna Staiti, who averages a team-high 15.7 points per game. While Mississippi State has forward Denae Carter back after a family emergency required her to return to Philadelphia, that's only a slight boost against one of the top frontcourt players in the conference.
"The early eyeball test is, she doesn't bury you in the paint quite as much as some of those other players might," said Novak, referring to Austin or Michigan's Naz Hillmon. "She is just so big and long that she just catches high and keeps it high in a great touch. It always scares me if someone can get right in front of that rim, it can bother us."
Mississippi State is dealing with its own internal tension, too. Guard Anastasia Hayes and another player had a confrontation at halftime against the Rebels, and Hayes returned to the bench a few minutes into the third quarter. Novak said the team has addressed those issues this week.
"There becomes a point where it's like, that's enough," Novak said. "No more psycho-babble. The relationship building that we talked about earlier, we just have to do it now. We just have to get on the floor, and we have to do it. And that takes maturity, that takes courage and toughness."
Follow along below for live updates between Georgia and Mississippi State.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Mississippi State women's basketball vs No. 13 Georgia: Live updates, score