Lady Bulldogs Open SEC Tournament Thursday Against Vanderbilt
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State fights to keep its season going Thursday afternoon as it meets Vanderbilt in the opening round of the 2012 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Tip is set for 2:30 p.m. on SportSouth.
The contest can also be heard on WKBB-FM 100.9 and WXWX-FM 96.3. Fans can get updates on the game via Twitter (www.twitter.com/mstateWBK).
Mississippi State enters the tournament as the 10 seed after wrapping the regular season 14-15 overall, 4-12 in SEC play. The Commodores earned the seven seed with a 21-8 overall mark and 9-7 league tally.
The two teams are meeting in the conference tournament for the second-straight year after the Commodores claimed a 69-55 win in the second round.
Senior Diamber Johnson was stellar in that contest, tallying 20 points on the Bridgestone Arena court. In the season's first meeting with Vandy, a 65-59 setback in Starkville, Johnson scored 17 points for Sharon Fanning-Otis' squad.
The Pontotoc, Miss., native was named Second Team All-SEC Wednesday morning following a stellar senior campaign that has seen her rate fourth in the conference with 14.7 ppg. Johnson hopes her previous success in Nashville gets her back on track Thursday after she has been limited to 6.8 ppg the last five games.
Senior Porsha Porter has stepped up her scoring down the stretch, averaging a team-best 13.4 points over the season's final five contests.
An SEC All-Defensive Team selection, Porter sparks MSU's defense with a conference-best 3.1 steals per game.
Porter sparks a Lady Bulldog squad that rates second in the league in defending field goals. In the regular-season meeting against Vanderbilt, State limited the SEC's top three-point shooting team to a season second-lowest 14.3 percent (2 of 14).
Martha Alwal was tabbed to the league's all-freshman squad after topping the conference with 2.8 blocks per game. With 82 blocks this season, Alwal stands one swat back of tying Chanel Mokango for second-most in a season.
Another rookie, Kendra Grant, has also come on strong for MSU down the stretch. The Richland, Miss., native has averaged 9.5 ppg over her regular season's final four games.
Mississippi State's defense will look to contain Christina Foggie, a First Team All-SEC honoree after topping the conference with a 17.9 scoring average. Tiffany Clarke tops Vandy on the boards with 7.3 per game.
The winner of Thursday's game will face second seed Tennessee at 2:30 p.m. Friday.