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Bulldogs Seek Second-Straight Road Win Sunday At No. 21 Texas A&M

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Vic Schaefer makes his first trip back to Texas A&M, the place he coached for nine seasons prior to coming to Starkville.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss.Vic Schaefer spent nine seasons on the bench at Texas A&M alongside Gary Blair. He will be on the opposite bench for the first time Sunday afternoon as Mississippi State heads to College Station for a 2 p.m. contest against the 21st-ranked Aggies.

Jason Crowder and Charlie Winfield will have the action in the Golden Triangle and surrounding areas on WKBB-FM 100.9 and in Tupelo on WXWX-FM 96.3. HailStateTV subscribers can access the live audio stream at www.hailstate.com/hstvlive.

Following a 9-19 opening season in College Station, Schaefer and MSU associate head coach Johnnie Harris helped take Texas A&M to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2011 NCAA National Championship.

It will also be a homecoming for assistant coach Aqua Franklin, director of operations Maryann Baker and video coordinator Skylar Collins. Franklin was a three-time All-Big 12 selection and two-time Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American for the Aggies, while Baker, the 2011 Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, and Collins were both members of the national championship-winning squad.

“It’s a business trip. The thing about going back there is that community really embraced my family when I almost lost my son. So from that standpoint, that’s a special place for me,” Schaefer said. “But I’m going for these girls. I’m going on a business trip, and I’m going there to win a basketball game. As I told them in the locker room, I have a lot of confidence in these kids.”

The Bulldogs’ second-year head coach has started building that championship program in Starkville, as this year’s squad has already eclipsed last season’s win total with a 14-4 overall record.

State, 1-3 in league play this season, will look to win on the road for the second-straight Sunday after knocking off No. 25 Arkansas in Schaefer’s first trip back to Fayetteville. On Thursday, the Bulldogs took No. 10 Tennessee to the wire before falling 67-63.

Junior Kendra Grant rebounded from a tough outing at Arkansas to score 21 points, two off her career high, against Tennessee.

The Richland, Miss., native averages 13.2 points per game this season, second on the squad behind classmate Martha Alwal.

Alwal enters Sunday seventh in the SEC with 16.1 points per game. The Worthington, Minn., native has capitalized on her scoring chances, knocking down a league second-highest 56.7 percent of her shots.

Senior Katia May also turned in a stellar effort against the Lady Vols, scoring 12 second-half points to finish two shy of her career best with 14.

Thursday’s effort raised May’s average to 9.3 points in SEC games. Freshmen Breanna Richardson and Dominique Dillingham have also stepped up their scoring in league play, averaging 12.3 and 9.0 points per game, respectively.

Sunday’s game will be the third meeting against the Aggies, with all three coming in the last three seasons.

Texas A&M (14-4, 4-0 SEC) has won seven-straight games and nine in a row at Reed Arena following a 67-65 overtime win against No. 8 South Carolina Thursday.

Courtney Walker and Courtney Williams paced TAMU Thursday, scoring 18 and 17 points, respectively. Walker paces the Aggies in scoring with 13.1 points per game this season, but Williams has been the leader in SEC play, averaging 15.3 points per game.

Karla Gilbert tops the Aggies on the boards with 7.7 per game; however, Achiri Ade has crashed the glass in league play with 10.0 rebounds per game.
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