South Carolina preview

Ketara Chapel and Mississippi State will battle second-ranked South Carolina again today. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Ketara Chapel and No. 10 Mississippi State will battle second-ranked South Carolina again today. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

A big basketball weekend on campus wraps up Sunday as No. 10 Mississippi State looks to make “History At The Hump” against No. 2 South Carolina.

The Bulldogs are encouraging fans to wear white and pack the Humphrey Coliseum with 10,000-plus fans for the 4 p.m. tip on ESPN2.

Tickets for the contest cost $5 for adults, while admission is free for youth age 17 and under and MSU students with a valid ID. Fans can buy tickets or at the Humphrey Coliseum ticket office on game day.

In addition to the national television broadcast, the game will also be carried on WKBB-FM 100.9 in the Golden Triangle, WXWX-FM 96.3 in Tupelo and WKCU-FM 92.9 and WKCU-AM 1350 in Corinth.

The first 5,000 fans in attendance receive a free rally towel, and MSU students get free pizza while supplies last.

As part of Bully’s Kids Club Day, fans can arrive early and enjoy games and inflatables at Bully’s Kidz Kourt in Mize Pavilion before watching the high-flying dunks of the Memphis Grizzlies’ “Kings of the Court.”

Mississippi State returns to the Hump 17-3 overall and 4-2 in SEC play following a tough road setback at Georgia on Thursday. The home court has been good to MSU, as the Bulldogs have won 16-straight games, the ninth-longest streak in the nation.

The Bulldogs are pushing for a record crowd after drawing the second largest in program history with 7,128 for last Monday’s win against Ole Miss.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans and a great crowd. I’m really proud of our fans and the support we have had over the years,” Bulldog head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I appreciate the support we’ve received from our fan base, the administration and the community. It’s not like this in most places.

“I am really pleased for my players. That’s why you go to school at certain places, and it’s why you invest so much blood, sweat and tears. Women’s basketball is important; it has been since the day I was hired. It’s the reason why I came here. This is part of what you do when you are trying to win a championship.”

Mississippi State has drawn 49,269 fans this season, 16th-most in the nation. The Bulldogs’ 5,817 average for SEC contests is third in the league.

“You would have to ask the other 13 coaches, but I think they would all agree that the Hump has turned into a very difficult place to play. Again, I am very proud of what we’ve been able to create here with the environment and home court advantage for our players,” Schaefer said. “For them to be able to experience that as a student-athlete is very special. People know when they come to Mississippi State they are going to play in front of 5,000 people a night. Again, that’s part of the student-athlete experience, and I think that’s part of building the program and doing what we do.”

MSU returns home holding a slim 16-15 advantage in the series against the Gamecocks, including a 9-5 edge in Starkville. State seeks to halt a six-game win streak for South Carolina.

USC claimed a 69-50 win in Columbia last season, with sophomore Victoria Vivians matching LaKaris Salter with a team-high 14 points.

Vivians is coming off a stellar 20-point effort against Georgia on Thursday. Her eighth game of the season with 20-plus points kept her atop the SEC scoring chart with 17.6 ppg.

The Carthage native is third in SEC play averaging 16.2 ppg.

Fellow sophomore Morgan William has also been instrumental for State in conference play, averaging 9.8 ppg. She poured in 16 points in the Bulldogs’ 79-51 win against the Rebels last Monday behind a season-high 9 of 10 at the free-throw line.

William leads the SEC at the charity stripe, knocking down 77 of 88 on the year for 87.5 percent.

The Birmingham, Alabama, native also sets up her teammates, leading the SEC both for the season and in SEC play with 5.3 assists per game.

Freshman Teaira McCowan paces MSU on the boards, claiming a 6.9 average that is tops among league rookies. She also rates third in the conference on the offensive glass, hauling down 3.7 per game.

The boards will be important, as MSU leads the league in rebounding margin (+9.2) while South Carolina rates third at +8.3.

“South Carolina is very talented and well-coached. They play the game very hard like we do. They defend hard, and they are physical inside and athletic. They have all of the tools,” Schaefer said. “I think we have to go play our game. You have to compete every possession defensively to give yourself a chance. I don’t think anyone will walk out of the arena Sunday afternoon disappointed in my kids’ effort. I think that is what brings people back. That’s the respect our kids have earned over the years.”

Alaina Coates, who claims 12.5 ppg, tops the Gamecocks with 9.6 rpg.

A’ja Wilson leads South Carolina in scoring at 16.6 ppg while rating second on the boards with 9.1 per game.

Tiffany Mitchell is second on the team with 14.6 ppg this season, but she tops the Gamecocks in league play with a 15.5 average.

(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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