With the fall semester and final exams complete, No. 9 Mississippi State returns its focus back to the basketball court Sunday with a road trip to Louisiana Tech.
Tip for the contest at the Thomas Assembly Center is set for 3 p.m. Sunday’s game can be heard in the Golden Triangle on WKBB-FM 100.9, in Tupelo on WXWX-FM 96.3 and in Corinth on WKCU-FM 92.9 and WKCU-AM 1350.
The winner of Sunday’s game will take the lead in the series, as it is currently tied 7-7. MSU won its second straight in the series last season, rallying for an 81-77 victory in Starkville.
“This will be our second true road test of the year. Last year, it took everything we had to beat them here by only four points (81-77),” MSU’s Vic Schaefer said. “They will be excited and ready to play. They are one of the tradition-rich women’s basketball programs in the country from a historical standpoint. It will be a good environment, and I am looking forward to how our kids will respond.”
The Bulldogs have won five of the last seven meetings against the Lady Techsters, including both under Schaefer, but fell in a tough 57-55 decision in their last trip to Ruston in the 2011-12 season.
Schaefer takes the Bulldogs to Ruston looking to see how they bounce back from a hard-fought 82-54 win against Tennessee State a week ago prior to the start of final exams. MSU took a slim one-point lead to halftime before pulling away over the final 20 minutes.
Victoria Vivians sparked the rally, scoring 19 of her 22 points in the second half to pace the Bulldogs to the victory.
Vivians, who added a Naismith Trophy Watch List nod to earlier selections for the Wooden Award and Drysdale Award, averages an SEC fourth-most 17.9 ppg to lead a Bulldog squad that tops the SEC and rates seventh nationally with 85.3 ppg.
She enters Sunday’s game having scored double figures in six-straight games, including four with 20-plus points.
Juniors Chinwe Okorie and Breanna Richardson also had big games for the Bulldogs against Tennessee State. Okorie claimed her third-career double-double, second of the season, with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Richardson scored a season-high 14 points and came two rebounds shy of a double-double of her own.
Richardson is averaging 11.0 points her last two games, including going 12 of 17 at the free-throw line.
Okorie, who claimed her first double-double last season against the Lady Techsters, is scoring at an 8.1 clip while rating second on the boards (6.3 rpg) behind freshman Teaira McCowan, who averages 10.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest.
McCowan and Okorie have helped MSU top the SEC and rank fifth in the nation with a +16.6 rebounding margin. The duo is also tied for sixth on the offensive boards for a Bulldog squad that hauls down an SEC-best 22.3 offensive rebounds per game.
Mississippi State faces a Louisiana Tech squad that hauls in 41.2 rebounds per game and wins the boards by 3.6 per game.
Brandi Wingate leads the way with 7.5 rebounds per game. She also paces Tyler Summitt’s offense, averaging 16.4 ppg.
Wingate has helped Louisiana Tech to a 4-4 record this season. The Lady Techsters are coming off a 77-67 road setback to Arizona on Thursday.
Sunday’s game has all the makings of a defensive battle. MSU tops the nation in scoring defense (41.9 ppg) and scoring margin (+43.4), while Louisiana Tech returns home allowing 61.6 ppg.
(From MSU Media Relations)