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January 31, 2013

Tennessee preview

Following an impressive home win against in-state rival Ole Miss on Sunday, the Mississippi State women's basketball team looks to build mid-season momentum Thursday when it travels to Knoxville to play No. 9 Tennessee.

CSS will televise the 6 p.m. CT showdown at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game will also be shown online by ESPN3.

WKBB-FM 100.9 and WXWX-FM 96.3 will broadcast the matchup, while HailStateTV subscribers can also access the live audio stream at www.hailstate.com/hstvlive.

Thursday's clash on Rocky Top wraps a grueling month of January for Coach Vic Schaefer's squad. Tennessee marks MSU's fourth Top 20 opponent in the first eight games of conference play, and the second tilt against a Top 10 team on the road.

"You're going to play a Top 10 team on the road," Schaefer said. "Holly (Warlick) and her staff are doing a great job coaching that team and getting them to play hard. You don't see any drop off from them.

"You have to go in there with the mindset that you have to cut down turnovers, get a good shot and keep them from getting second and third shots," Schaefer added. "We are going to have to take care of the ball and be the aggressor, attacking pressure with pressure."

The Bulldogs (9-11, 1-6 SEC) earned their first conference win on Sunday with a 72-57 victory against the Rebels. Martha Alwal dominated the post for Mississippi State, recording a career-high 23 points and 12 rebounds en route to her second-consecutive double-double.

"Hopefully they have seen the fruition of some hard work, good focus and being competitive," Schaefer said of Sunday's first SEC win. "That's what we are trying to teach our kids every day."

Alwal is currently tied with Texas A&M's Kelsey Bone for the league lead in rebounding with 9.7 boards a game. She also ranks second in blocked shots with 2.3 per outing.

Sophomore Kendra Grant leads MSU scorers with her 12.6 scoring clip. She racked up 20 points in the win against the Rebels, her fourth game with at least 20 points this season.

The Lady Vols (16-4, 7-0) enter the contest as the lone undefeated squad in SEC play. On Monday, UT dropped a 77-67 decision to No. 2 Notre Dame in Knoxville.

Tennessee boasts the best offensive attack in the SEC, averaging an astounding 81.1 points in league play. The Lady Vols also lead the conference at the free throw line, shooting 74.8 percent.

Meighan Simmons paces UT in scoring (17.3 points) and steals (1.6). Bashaara Graves rates second on the team in scoring with 14.7 points while topping the squad with 9.1 rebounds.

Mississippi State returns home Sunday to play Arkansas at Humphrey Coliseum. Tip is set for 2 p.m., with SportSouth televising the game.


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