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January 3, 2013

Vanderbilt preview

Mississippi State hopes the strong close to the non-conference slate carries into SEC play as the Bulldogs open the league slate at Vanderbilt Thursday night. Tip at Memorial Gymnasium is set for 7 p.m.

The contest will be broadcast on WNMQ-FM 103.1.

Mississippi State heads to Nashville 8-5 and riding the momentum of a five-game win streak that was capped last weekend with a 65-49 win against Northwestern State and an 82-60 win against Troy.

The Bulldogs put their most complete game together in the pre-SEC finale against Troy, scoring their most points in a game since the 2010-11 season opener against USC Upstate.

Sophomores Martha Alwal and Carnecia Williams paced head coach Vic Schaefer's squad in last weekend's back-to-back contests.

Williams scored a game-high 16 points against Northwestern State before posting her first double-double with 21 points and 10 boards against the Trojans.

Alwal tallied a double-double in both contests, collecting 10 points and 13 rebounds against the Lady Demons and 21 points, 12 rebounds against Troy.

Alwal, who is averaging 12 ppg this season, tops the SEC in rebounding with 9.7 per contest. The Worthington, Minn., native's eight double-figure rebounding games and six double-doubles are both tops in the league.

Fellow sophomore Kendra Grant leads MSU in the scoring column with a 13.2 average. She scored nine points in each of last weekend's games, halting her run of consecutive double-figure games at seven.

Senior Darriel Gaynor's return to the starting lineup last Saturday sparked the Las Vegas native as she scored a career-high five 3-pointers for a personal-best 15 points.

Gaynor and her Bulldog teammates also defended the arc well, limiting a good-shooting Troy squad to 21.4 percent from 3-point range.

MSU has held foes to an SEC-low 24.1 percent from 3-point range this season, and the Dawgs will have to continue that solid play against a 10-3 Vanderbilt squad that ranks second in the league with a 35.7-percent tally from long range.

State, who is opening SEC play on the road for the sixth time in seven seasons, faces a Commodores squad that has won seven-straight games overall and six-straight in Memorial Gymnasium.

Vandy closed the pre-conference slate with a 74-56 win at Southern Cal. Christina Foggie and Tiffany Clarke paced the Dores with 28 and 24 points, respectively.

Clarke leads Vanderbilt in scoring with a 15.8 average. Foggie falls just behind with a 15.7 clip.

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