STARKVILLE – Mississippi State wraps up its non-conference schedule today as the 15th-ranked Bulldogs host Little Rock at Humphrey Coliseum for a 2 p.m. tip.
- Mississippi State is coming off a 2018-19 campaign that saw the Bulldogs post a 15-1 conference record to clinch the second title in program history. State followed that up by winning the team’s first ever SEC • Tournament Championship with a commanding 101-70 victory over Arkansas and then earning a third straight Elite Eight appearance.
- The Bulldogs entered the 2019-20 season with their sights set on a third consecutive SEC title, a feat that no program has accomplished outright since 2001-04.
- Mississippi State owns the nation’s longest road winning streak at 12 games. This season, the Bulldogs own wins at Marquette, Louisiana and Jackson State.
- After being ranked in every AP Top 25 poll this season, State has been in the AP rankings for 102 straight weeks.
- With the departure of SEC Player of the Year Teaira McCowan, Mississippi State had a major void to fill in the post this season. Sophomore forward Jessika Carter has answered that need, leading the team with 14.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. As a sophomore, McCowan averaged 8.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
- Graduate guard Jordan Danberry was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA in August after not redshirting when she transferred to Mississippi State in January 2017. This season, she leads the team in steals (2.8 spg) and ranks second in scoring (12.9 ppg) and assists (2.8 apg).
- Rickea Jackson has shown why she was one of the top players in last year’s signing class. The freshman forward is third on the team in scoring at 12.2 points per game and is shooting 46 percent from the field. She has scored in double figures in seven of the last nine games and is the team’s leading scorer during the last five games at 14.4 ppg. She’s the first true freshman to start the season for Schaefer since Victoria Vivians in 2014-15.
- With the victory at Marquette on 11/25/19, Vic Schaefer’s claimed his 200th win at MSU in just his 256 game, making him the second-fastest coach to ever achieve that with an SEC program. (See note on Page 6)
- As Mississippi State wraps up non-conference play, the Bulldogs have been exceptional against non-SEC foes under Schaefer, compiling a 118-15 record. MSU has posted at least 15 non-SEC victories during six of Schaefer’s first seven seasons with the lone exception being his first year.
State’s Offense Among Best in the Country
- Although Vic Schaefer’s teams are widely known for their defense, Mississippi State has established itself as one of the best offensive teams in Division I.
- Through 13 games, State ranks seventh the nation in scoring offense at 83.8 ppg and ranks 10th in scoring margin (+26.0).
- With five players shooting over 50 percent from the field, the Bulldogs rank 16th in the country and top the SEC in field-goal percentage with a .468 clip.
- Another key to MSU’s early offensive success has been its ability to take care of the ball and make the extra passes for better shots. State ranks fourth in the SEC in assist/turnover ratio (1.09).
- When the Bulldogs aren’t knocking down shots, State is crashing the glass to get a second opportunity at a basket. With 203 offensive rebounds on the season, Mississippi State has gotten the rebound on 43 percent of its missed baskets and turned that into 234 second-chance points.
Secretary of Defense
- Vic Schaefer’s teams have always had a major emphasis on one area: defense. If you want to play for him, you have to play lockdown, tenacious and suffocating defense for 40 minutes every game. It’s this expectation and mentality that has earned Schaefer the nickname “Secretary of Defense.”
- So far this season, State’s relentless defense has forced opponents into turning the ball over 288 times for an average of 22.2 turnovers per game. That number ranks 16th in the nation and second in the SEC.
- The Bulldogs have been great at rejecting shots with an average of 5.8 blocks per game, which is 13th in the Division I. Jessika Carter has led the charge by posting 2.2 bpg this season to rank 30th in the country and third in the SEC. The sophomore forward has four games with three or more blocks on the year.
- State’s on-ball pressure has been suffocating all season, especially in the press. MSU ranks third in the SEC with 10.1 steals per game. Jordan Danberry is pacing the team in the category with 2.8 spg to rank third in league and 33rd in the nation.
- While there is no ranking for the stat, Mississippi State certainly ranks amongst the country’s best teams at drawing charges. So far, the Bulldogs have taken 42 charges, led by 23 from Myah Taylor.
Bulldogs in the AP Rankings
• On Nov. 24, 2014, the Associated Press voted Mississippi State back into the top 25 for the first time in four years. With MSU earning a spot in the preseason poll heading into the 2019-20 season, the Bulldogs have now spent 102 consecutive weeks inside the AP Top 25, marking the longest streak in program history.
- During the stretch, State was ranked inside the top 10 for 63 total weeks, including five weeks this season.
- Since beginning the streak, MSU has been ranked as a top-five team for 33 weeks, including a stretch of 14 straight weeks during the 2017-18 season.
- When the preseason rankings came out on Oct. 30, Mississippi State earned its eighth preseason ranking in program history, checking in at No. 10 in the country.
Carter Having A Breakout Season
• Through 13 games, Jessika Carter has been one of the best players in the SEC.
- The sophomore forward ranks inside the top 15 in the league in scoring (14.0 ppg/9th), rebounding (10.7 rpg/2nd), blocks (2.2/3rd) and field-goal percentage (.545/7th).
- Carter has led State in rebounding nine times and has scored double-figures in 10 contests. She has also posted four double-doubles this year and has three games with four blocks.
- Carter was named SEC Player of the Week after dominating in State’s wins over Murray State and Troy, averaging 22.0 points, 16.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
- Against Murray State, she recorded the first double-double of her career with 25 points and 18 rebounds, both of which were personal bests at the time. She had already notched the double-double by the end of the first quarter.
- She grabbed a career-high 21 boards at Marquette to go along with 14 points.
- Carter earned a spot on the Duel in the Desert all-tournament team after posting 13 points and 15 boards against Virginia in the championship game.
MSU Brings Home Duel in the Desert Title
• After posting wins against USF and Virginia, Mississippi State brought home the Duel in the Desert title.
- The Bulldogs posted double-digit wins against both of their opponents en route to the team’s first regular-season tournament championship since 2017, when State won the 2017 edition of the Duel in the Desert.
- MSU opened with a wire-to-wire victory against USF. Chloe Bibby knocked down five 3-pointers in the first quarter to fuel the offense. Rickea Jackson, who earned tournament MVP honors, posted the first double-double of her career with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
- Against Virginia, Jessika Carter finished with 13 points and 15 boards to earn a spot on the all-tournament team.