Tennessee preview

LaKaris Salter and the Bulldogs are seeking their first win ever against Tennessee. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

LaKaris Salter and the Bulldogs are seeking their first win ever against Tennessee. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

No. 18 Mississippi State heads to Rocky Top Sunday afternoon to face its highest-ranked foe of the season in No. 6 Tennessee.

Tip at Thompson-Boling Arena is set for 2 p.m. CT, with Cara Capuano and Steffi Sorensen calling the game on the SEC Network. The contest will also be carried online on WatchESPN.

WKBB-FM 100.9 in the Golden Triangle area, WXWX-FM 96.3 in Tupelo and HailStatePLUS will carry the radio broadcast with Jason Crowder and Charlie Winfield.

The trip to Knoxville begins a stretch of three-straight games against Top 15 foes for the Bulldogs. MSU plays four of its six February games on the road, including three tilts against teams ranked in the Top 10.

The Bulldogs enter the season’s final full month 22-2 overall and 7-2 in SEC play following a 69-44 win against Vanderbilt Thursday in Humphrey Coliseum.

Vic Schaefer’s squad matched last season’s win total while claiming the program’s most conference wins since 2009-10. State hits the road having won four-straight league contests for the first time since 2006-07.

Freshman Victoria Vivians paced Mississippi State’s win against the Commodores, scoring 16 second-half points en route to 20 points.

Vivians’ seventh game of 20-plus points raised her season average to 14.5 ppg, the fifth-highest in the league and first among freshmen.

Thursday’s effort followed a 19-point, 10-rebound showing at Auburn. The Carthage, Miss., native has averaged 19.5 ppg her last two outings.

Vivians also paces MSU in conference play with 11.6 ppg, just ahead of sophomore Breanna Richardson’s 10.4 tally. The Conyers, Ga., native, who leads MSU with 6.7 rpg in SEC play, is averaging 12.3 ppg the last three games after scoring 16 at Ole Miss and 15 against Auburn.

Seniors Martha Alwal and Kendra Grant also sparked Thursday’s win against Vandy. Alwal added 14 points in her third start of the year, following a 14-point effort at Ole Miss and 15 in last Monday’s win at Auburn.

The SEC’s leading shot blocker swatted a pair Thursday to become the third player in SEC history to record 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 300 blocks for her career.

Alwal scored 10 points in last season’s 67-63 heart-breaker against the Lady Vols while Grant added 21.

Grant, who scored 12 first-half points against Vanderbilt, has enjoyed a stellar career against the Lady Vols, averaging 16.0 ppg.

Grant and Alwal, along with fellow seniors Savannah Carter and Jerica James, seek to cap their careers by helping MSU to its first win in the series.

Sunday’s contest pits two teams that rate in the Top 5 in the league in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

State enters Sunday the nation’s best at defending the 3-point line, holding teams to 20.6 percent. It faces a Tennessee squad that has knocked down an SEC-best 35.4 percent in league play.

The Lady Vols return home following a 73-72 win at No. 10 Kentucky that improved them to 18-3 overall and 8-0 in the league.

Isabelle Harrison paced Tennessee with 23 points and 10 rebounds, raising her team-leading season totals to 12.6 ppg and 8.9 rpg.

Ariel Massengale also averages double figures for the Lady Vols, scoring 11.2 ppg overall and 10.6 ppg in conference play.

Following Sunday’s contest, Mississippi State returns home to host its first of two February Hail State Hoops luncheons Thursday before returning to action on the home court Sunday against No. 12/14 Texas A&M.

Tip for next Sunday’s contest is set for 2 p.m. on the SEC Network. The game will also be carried live nationally on Sirius 92 and XM 190 in addition to the local affiliates.

(From MSU Media Relations)


I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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  • Mike Davis

    Our girls go hard and our boys are improving!!!

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