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February 3, 2013

Arkansas preview

Following a quick one-game roadtrip, Mississippi State returns to Humphrey Coliseum Sunday to open the final full month of the season with a clash against Arkansas.

Tip for the contest is set for 2 p.m., with SportSouth televising the game to a regional audience. An ESPN3 stream will be available to fans outside the SEC footprint.

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

Mississippi State returns home a week after picking up its first SEC victory, a 72-57 triumph over in-state rival Ole Miss. The Bulldogs had a tough setback Thursday, falling 88-45 at No. 9 Tennessee to drop to 9-12 overall and 1-7 in the league.

"Typical of a young team, we've played better at home than we have on the road," head coach Vic Schaefer said. "I told our team that our crowd will be back wanting to see the same team that played last Sunday, so it's very important that we are able to provide that same level of energy. I look for our kids to be excited about being back home against a good Arkansas team."

Against the Lady Vols, State's second-straight road game against a Top 10 foe, sophomore Martha Alwal came a rebound shy of her third-straight double-double as she scored 16 points to go along with nine boards.

Alwal ranks second in the SEC in rebounding (9.6), blocks (2.3), and free-throw percentage (81.9 percent). The Worthington, Minn., native is averaging 12.3 ppg, second on the team behind sophomore Kendra Grant.

Grant tops the Bulldogs with 12.5 ppg. The Richland, Miss., native tallied 10 points Thursday after lighting up Ole Miss for 20 a week ago.

Mississippi State enters February looking to bounce back from a grueling January slate that included four nationally-ranked foes. Although only two teams left on the schedule are in the polls currently, Schaefer knows there is no rest in the SEC.

"We have to keep working and getting better and keeping our eyes focused every day on the short list as I call it - Playing hard and playing with a passion. Those are the things we will continue to teach," Schaefer said.

For Schaefer, February opens with an Arkansas program that he helped guide to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Final Four in his first year, and a WNIT title in six seasons.

This year's Arkansas squad sits at 15-6 overall, 3-5 in SEC play, after defeating Ole Miss 77-66 in Oxford Thursday night.

Senior Sarah Watkins netted a career-high 28 points in the win to raise her team-best scoring clip to 12.9 ppg.

Watkins and the Razorbacks rate second in the SEC in field goal defense (35.4 percent) and among the league leaders with a 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio.



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