Lady Bulldogs to face Commodores

STARKVILLE, Miss. - It's crunch time and the last two regular season games for the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs (12-13, 6-6 SEC) are crucial. State faces the 24th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores (18-7, 6-6 SEC) in Nashville, Tenn. on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. CT in a match up of two of the four teams that are tied for fifth place in the conference. Florida and Mississippi both have even conference records at 6-6, at a time when any win is one step closer to postseason possibilities.

Junior guard Tan White posted her fifth season double-double in the 61-78 loss at LSU with 22 points and 11 rebounds. The Tupelo-native is second in the league and 31st nationally averaging 19.2 ppg. The Nashville, Tenn. native junior guard Tiania Burns is averaging 14.8 ppg and 5.2 rpg. The duo combined has posted 850 points - over half of the team's total point production.

Vanderbilt (18-7, 6-6) started the season with a 10-game winning streak but has since gone 8-7. Most recently the Commodores tallied two key road wins at LSU and at Auburn to pull their conference record even to 6-6 and a four-way tie for fifth place in the SEC. VU has balanced scoring with four players averaging double digits: Abi Ramsey (13.8 ppg), Jenni Benningfield (12.8 ppg), Hillary Hager (11.6 ppg) and Ashley Earley (11.5 ppg). The team leads the league in 3-point field goal percentages with .399.

This marks the 36th meeting with the Commodores. VU leads the series, 25-10. The Lady Bulldogs are only 1-13 in Nashville, with their sole win coming Feb. 14, 1981 (83-77). MSU is 3-9 vs. the Commodores under head coach Sharon Fanning.

The two teams have shared two non-conference opponents this season. VU defeated South Alabama in overtime, 64-62, to open the 2003-04 season. The Commodores defeated New Orleans at the beginning of December, 75-56. MSU went 1-1 vs. these opponents, falling at South Alabama, 53-67, and defeating UNO, 73-54.

To round out the 2003-04 regular season, MSU hosts Alabama on Sunday, Feb. 29 at 3 p.m. CT in its second ever leap year game. Sunday will be "Senior Day" honoring Seneca Anderson, Jessica Carter and Faithe McGhee for their contributions to the Lady Bulldog program.

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