Vanderbilt preview

Mississippi State forward Breanna Richardson (3) looks for an open teammate to pass to against South Carolina in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Starkville, Miss., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. South Carolina won 57-51. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi State forward Breanna Richardson is averaging 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds off the bench. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi State wraps its regular-season road slate Thursday with a crucial Southeastern Conference matchup at Vanderbilt.

The 16th-ranked Bulldogs head to Nashville 22-6 overall and in third place in the SEC standings with a 9-5 mark. MSU sits a game back of Texas A&M for second, while holding just a one game advantage over Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri for third.

Tip for Thursday’s road finale at Memorial Gymnasium is set for 7 p.m.

The contest will be shown in its entirety online and via the WatchESPN app on SEC Network +. The SEC Network television channel will air portions of the contest as part of a special SEC Network Women’s Basketball Whip Around program.

Fans in the Golden Triangle can tune in to the radio broadcast on WMXU-FM 106.1.

“We’re certainly going to a place that’s unique and different. It’s a place where there hasn’t been a lot of success for any team going in there and playing on the road,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “A lot of that has to do with their team and their coaching staff. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Vanderbilt and the job that they do. They always have great players and it seems like they always have a bunch of good shooters.

“We certainly have our hands full. We’ve played well at times on the road this year, and I’m anxious to see how we’ll do on the road there. We played pretty well on the road on Sunday and we’ve had other games on the road where we’ve played well like Arkansas and LSU. I’m anxious to see us play in a different environment and see how we adjust.”

The Bulldogs look to build on a 60-51 win against in-state rival Ole Miss. Sophomore Victoria Vivians paced State with the sixth double-double of her career, notching 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Vivians’ ninth 20-point game of the season raised her to second in the SEC in scoring this season at 16.8 ppg. She also stands fifth in league contests at 15.4 ppg.

The Carthage, Mississippi, native, who is on the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 as well as the midseason watch lists for the Naismith and Drysdale awards, has also stepped up on the defensive end of the floor, leading the team with 1.9 steals per game. She also tops the Bulldogs on the boards in SEC play with 6.6 rpg.

Her 22-point showing against the Rebels put her road scoring average at 18.6 ppg compared to a 15.5 clip at home.

Vivians enters the final stretch of the season with 976 career points, 24 from putting her in the 1,000-point club in her second year of college action.

Fellow sophomore Morgan William has also thrived on the road, averaging 11.5 ppg in State’s nine road games.

The Birmingham, Alabama, native tallied 10 points the last time out, giving her 11.5 ppg her last 10 contests.

William, who is second in the SEC with 142 assists this season, has also been a defensive standout for the Bulldogs, tying junior Dominique Dillingham with 42 charges taken.

Always known as a tough defender, Dillingham has stepped up her offensive production this season, averaging 7.8 ppg this season after contributing 12 points to Sunday’s fifth-straight win against the Rebels.

Dillingham’s offense has been even more on point in league play, as she is averaging 8.6 ppg while playing an SEC-leading 38.3 minutes per contest.

The Spring, Texas, product heads to Nashville averaging 9.5 points her last seven contests.

The trio looks to lead Schaefer’s squad to a second-straight win against the Commodores. MSU split two meetings against Vandy last season, winning 69-44 in Starkville after Vanderbilt halted State’s school-record 18-game win streak 78-62 in Nashville.

The Bulldogs can claim double-digit SEC wins in consecutive seasons for the first time, but to do so, has to win in a place where it has only won twice in 21 meetings.

Vanderbilt brings a 15-12 overall record and 4-10 SEC mark into Thursday’s Senior Night. The Commodores, who have lost seven-straight games, are 10-5 at home this season, 2-5 in SEC play, in Memorial Gymnasium.

Mississippi native Christa Reed paces Vandy with 10.8 ppg for the year and 10.6 ppg in conference contests.

Rebekah Dahlman rates third on the team with 9.2 ppg, but she is second on the squad in league play at 8.9 ppg.

Marqu’es Webb tops Vandy on the boards inside SEC play with 6.6 rpg.

Following Thursday’s game, Mississippi State wraps the regular-season slate Sunday at home against Alabama. Tip for that contest is set for 1:30 p.m.

(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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