Puerto Rico Classic preview

Sophomore forward LaKaris Salter is averaging 4.5 points off the bench for the Bulldogs. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Sophomore forward LaKaris Salter is averaging 4.5 points off the bench for the Bulldogs. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

No. 9 Mississippi State looks for a strong finish to its pre-Christmas slate as it tips the Puerto Rico Classic Saturday against Florida Gulf Coast.

Tip from Rubén Zayas Montañez Coliseum in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, is set for 10 a.m. CT.

State will play three games in as many days, facing Western Michigan at 12:15 p.m. Sunday and SMU at 12:15 p.m. Monday.

The contests will be broadcast in the Golden Triangle area on WKBB-FM 100.9, in Tupelo on WXWX-FM 96.3 and in Corinth on WKCU-FM 92.9 and WKCU-AM 1350.

A free live video stream of the games will be available athttp://livefrompr.com/puertoricoclassic.html.

The Bulldogs head to Puerto Rico 8-1 on the season following a 78-65 win against Southern Mississippi on Wednesday.

State put five players in double figures in the contest, led by 17 points each from Ketara Chapel and Morgan William.

Juniors Dominique Dillingham and Chinwe Okorie tallied 15 and 13 points, respectively, while sophomore Victoria Vivians recorded her eighth-straight game in double figures with 10.

Vivians paces the Bulldogs with a 19.0 average that ranks second in the SEC and 29th in the nation. The Carthage native scored 20-plus points in five of those contests, including 36 points at Louisiana Tech.

Dillingham’s 15-point effort vaulted her to 8.7 ppg this season, third on the team behind freshman Teaira McCowan’s 9.2 average. McCowan tops MSU on the boards with 6.8 per game, just ahead of Okorie’s 6.3 tally.

MSU, which has eclipsed 80 points in six of nine games this season, rates fifth in the nation and first in the SEC scoring 85.3 ppg.

The Bulldogs also get it done on the defensive end, holding foes to an NCAA Division I-best 46.8 ppg. State also tops the nation in turnover margin (+12.7) and turnovers forced (26.1 tpg).

The Bulldogs are making the program’s first trip to Puerto Rico, and the three games will be their first-ever meetings against their opponents.

Florida Gulf Coast enters the weekend 7-3 on the season. The Eagles are coming off a 2014-15 campaign that saw them go 31-3, win the Atlantic Sun Conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Kaneisha Atwater has paced FGCU this season, scoring 15.3 ppg and grabbing 5.9 rpg. Reigning A-Sun Player of the Year Whitney Knight returned from injury against Providence, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Western Michigan sits at 6-2 on the season and has won four-straight games following a 70-66 win against Detroit last Saturday.

Miracle Woods paces the Broncos with 16.3 ppg, while Teagan Reeves averages 10.1 ppg and tops the team on the boards with 7.4 per game.

This weekend’s slate will be SMU’s first action since a 67-55 setback at Texas A&M on Dec. 7. The Mustangs, 3-5 on the year, are paced by Alicia Froling’s double-double of 13.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.

(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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