Mississippi State’s second trip to Texas of the season will be another Top-15 matchup as the No. 11 Bulldogs face No. 13 Texas A&M Thursday in a key SEC road contest.
Tip at Reed Arena in College Station is set for 6 p.m., with the Top-15 matchup being televised nationally on the SEC Network. The contest can also be heard on WNMQ-FM 103.1 in the Golden Triangle.
Vic Schaefer returns to his alma mater guiding a Bulldog squad that is 21-4 overall and 8-3 in SEC play. State remained in second place in the SEC standings with a 52-42 home victory against No. 21 Missouri on Sunday.
“We’re going into a very tough environment and playing a quality basketball team. Coach [Gary] Blair is a six-time hall of fame coach and those kids will be prepared,” Schaefer said. “Those seniors are the No. 2 recruiting class in the country. They’re a very talented and special group. They have had a lot of success in their careers.
“I’m fully expecting a tough environment on Thursday night. I’m excited to see how we go in there and compete. I think we will. We have tremendous kids with a competitive spirit. I’m hopeful that we can go in there, compete and play a great ball game on Thursday night.”
Texas A&M sits just behind MSU in fourth place at 6-4 in the league, 16-7 for the season. The Aggies snapped a two-game losing streak with a 76-71 overtime win against No. 25 Tennessee last Sunday.
The Bulldogs head to College Station looking to claim a second-straight win against the Aggies after claiming a 63-61 overtime victory in Starkville last season.
This year’s meeting features the SEC’s top two scorers. Mississippi State sophomore Victoria Vivians rates second in the league with a 17.2 average, while Texas A&M senior Courtney Walker tops the conference with an 18.7 average.
Vivians, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 55 seconds left in overtime last season, enters Thursday’s game having scored double figures in six-straight games following a 13-point effort in Sunday’s victory against Mizzou.
Sophomore Morgan William had the assist on Vivians’ bucket last season as part of a 15-point effort. William has stepped up her scoring of late for MSU, hitting double digits the last five games and six of her last seven contests.
The Birmingham, Alabama, native matched her second-highest scoring output of the season with 17 points against Missouri.
William has notched a majority of her production at the free-throw line, where she rates behind only Walker making 83.9 percent for the year.
She has helped the Bulldogs atop the SEC at the free-throw line at 73.9 percent. In league play, though, MSU’s 76.6 percent conversion rate ranks second behind the Aggies’ 76.7 percent tally.
While State has enjoyed success on the offensive end, the defense has been the catalyst for MSU’s success.
The Bulldogs head to College Station boasting the top scoring defense in league play, allowing 54.8 ppg after holding Missouri to a season-low 42 on Sunday.
State, which holds its SEC foes to 38.1 percent shooting, faces an Aggie offense that averages an SEC third-best 68.6 ppg in conference contests behind 21.5 ppg from Walker.
In addition to Walker, Courtney Williams also averages double digits on the season at 11.9 ppg. Chelsea Jennings rates third at 9.2 ppg, but she is scoring at an 11.5 clip in TAMU’s 10 conference games.
Following Thursday’s game, the Bulldogs enjoy an open date on Sunday before returning to the Hump for another Top-25 showdown against Kentucky. Tip for that contest is also set for 6 p.m. on the SEC Network.
(From MSU Media Relations)