- Feb 22, 2016
Thompson-Boling Arena|Knoxville, TN
Jan 5 (Thu)
6:30 P.M. ET
Rickea Jackson welcomes her old team to her new home court in Lady Vols basketball's third SEC matchup.
Tennessee (10-6, 2-0 SEC) faces Mississippi State (12-3, 1-1) on Thursday (6:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network+) at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Bulldogs are coming off a 61-50 rivalry loss to Ole Miss while the Lady Vols are off to a strong start in conference play. Tennessee won games against Florida and Alabama by double digits.
Mississippi State is a veteran team
The Bulldogs are experienced, led by upperclassmen Jessika Carter, JerKaila Jordan, Asianae Johnson and Anastasia Hayes.
Carter, a 6-foot-5 forward, leads the team in scoring (14.7 points per game) and rebounding (8.4). Jordan and freshman guard Debreasha Powe also average double figures for MSU and lead the team in 3-point shooting. It's not a major part of the Bulldogs' offense, but Jordan has shot 36.8% on her 21 3-pointers and Powe shot 30.8% on 20 3-pointers.
Graduate guard Ahlana Smith has made the next most 3-pointers (18) but shoots the best percentage at 40.9%.
Bulldogs aim to dominate the paint
MSU has averaged 41.2 points in the paint in its last five games.
The only team to hold the Bulldogs to fewer than 40 in that category was Ole Miss (28). Carter was the only player to score in double digits with 15 points against the Rebels. She shot 60% from the field, right around her season average of 58.6%. Carter is also a threat on the offensive glass, and Tennessee needs to be disciplined in boxing out.
Tennessee typically dominates the paint as well, scoring 52 paint points against Alabama and 46 against Florida. But the Lady Vols have more consistent 3-point shooting, and their ability to stretch the floor should lead them to another night of dominating the paint.
Mississippi State could hang around with gritty play
Sunday's win wasn't an easy one for Ole Miss. The Bulldogs only trailed by three points after the third quarter.
Ole Miss won because it held MSU to six points in the last quarter, but MSU also only allowed 14 points. The Bulldogs kept the rebounding even and scored 15 points off turnovers. MSU averages 11.5 steals per game and force an average of 20.5 turnovers.
Tennessee needs to keep building on recent play of strong rebounding, tough defense and low turnovers to secure a dominant win.
A potentially big night for Rickea Jackson
It doesn't take much to light a fire in Jackson.
Against Florida, it was some words Ra Shaya Kyle had for her early in the game – she ended with 28 points. Against Alabama, it was 1-for-4 shooting in the first quarter – she didn't miss a field goal the rest of the game.
With her former team coming to Knoxville, there's no shortage of motivation to have a great night. Jackson has been on fire to start SEC play, scoring 50 points on 74.1% shooting in two games. No one has been able to stop her and it's unlikely MSU will be the team to break that trend.
"We treat every opponent the same," Jackson said after Sunday's win. "I feel like we're just gonna go out there and continue to do us and stay within ourselves."
Tennessee 82, Mississippi State 58: The Lady Vols have been forged by fire and it has shown in the first two SEC games. Tennessee should dominate Thursday's game at home and notch its third straight conference win.
Coach Jumper's prediction:
Lady Vols 77 Miss St 66