Auburn Begins Final Road Stretch At Mississippi State
Feb. 20, 2010
[NR/NR] Auburn (12-14, 3-10 SEC) at [NR/NR] Mississippi State (17-9, 8-5 SEC)
When: Sunday, February 21 2 p.m. CT
AUBURN - The Auburn women's basketball team (12-14, 3-10 SEC) will play the first of its final two road games Sunday as the Tigers travel to Starkville, Miss., for a 2 p.m. meeting with Mississippi State (17-9, 8-5 SEC). It is the second meeting between the squads this season with the Bulldogs earning the 73-58 victory earlier this season.
The game is the first of a two-game road swing for the Tigers as Auburn travels to Ole Miss on Thursday, Feb. 25. Auburn will then return home for its regular-season finale on Sunday, Feb. 28 against Kentucky.
Auburn and MSU last played in the SEC-opener for each team and while the Bulldogs have struggled some this season, Mississippi State enters Sundays game having won five of its last seven, including a 73-54 win over in-state rival Ole Miss last weekend.
"Mississippi State is coming off a great win over Ole Miss last Sunday, they are a team that is very dangerous," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "They have Tysheka Grimes back, who did not play the first time we played them. She is a really good post player. They are an experienced team playing hard at the end of the SEC season."
With all five Mississippi State starters averaging double-digit points, defense will be the key for Auburn.
"We have to defend. We have to be able to defend their shooters because they hurt us bad with their 3-point shooters when we played them here," said Fortner. We have to take care of the ball, we turned over the ball and it helped them get on some runs that we just never overcame."
With 19.0 points per game, Alexis Rack leads the Bulldogs in scoring. She is followed by Armelie Lumanu (12.6), Tysheka Grimes (11.4), Mary Kathryn Govero (11.3) and Chanel Mokango (10.5). Rack also leads the team in assists with 4.6, making her accountable for nearly 30 Mississippi State points per game.
Lumanu leads the team in rebounding with 7.3 per game, followed by Mokango with 7.0 and Grimes with 6.6. Mokango is also the team's top shot blocker with 2.5 per game.
Mississippi State forces 20.8 opponent turnovers per game while committing only 15.4 of their own. The forced turnovers come on the back of 9.7 steals per game, led by Lumanu with 2.6 and Rack with 2.3 per game.
As a team, MSU shoots 41.0 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from 3-point range. The Bulldogs average 7.3 3-pointers per game, led by Rack with 3.6 and Govero with 2.1.
Auburn last played on Sunday, Feb. 14, falling to No. 23 LSU, 75-51. Not having a Thursday game this week, Fortner was able to give the team some much-needed rest as the season nears its end.
"We gave them an extra couple of days off, which is always good for their legs at this point in time in the season," said Fortner. "We have had good practices and we are looking forward to the game. We are working to become a better team. We have to get out of the little slump we are in and get on a winning track before we head to the SEC tournament."
Leading the way for Auburn this season is junior Alli Smalley with 15.0 points per game, ranking sixth in the SEC. Right behind her is senior KeKe Carrier with 13.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Carrier ranks in the top 15 in the SEC in all three categories, including a third-place position in blocks.
Since the start of SEC play, freshman Morgan Toles has stepped up her role, averaging 7.8 points and 4.5 assists per game. She posted a career-best 10 assists against Georgia. Redshirt junior Jordan Greenleaf is averaging 7.3 rebounds and 7.5 points in SEC play. She is also making a case for All-Defensive team as she ranks T12th in steals and T11th in blocks in SEC-only games.
The Tigers average shooting 41.6 percent from the field and 31.0 percent from 3-point range. Auburn out-rebounds its opponents by 5.6 per game, 6.2 in SEC games. AU also averages 5.0 blocked shots per game.
Fans can follow the action with live stats and a video Webcast at www.MStateAthletics.com. Tiger fans can also listen to the game live on WMXA 96.7 FM and AuburnTigers.com with play-by-play from Andy Burcham and color commentary from Arnika Edwards.
Auburn Women's Basketball Quick Hitters
NEXT UP FOR THE TIGERS
AUBURN-MISSISSIPPI STATE SERIES
LAST TIME AGAINST MISSISSIPPI STATE (Jan. 3, 2010)
Senior KeKe Carrier led the Tigers with her fourth double-double of the season, providing 18 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Alli Smalley scored 14 followed by freshman Morgan Toles with 10, tying her career high.
Redshirt junior Jordan Greenleaf pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds and recorded a season-best four steals.
Mississippi State quickly took the lead in the second half as Govero drained five points in the opening 2:30. Toles responded for the Tigers, connecting on a short-range jumper to retake the lead. A back-and-forth battle ensued as the lead was exchanged nine times before the 11:37 mark.
From that point on, the Tigers would only connect on 5-of-13 attempts from the field. Mississippi State's cold spell would end as the Bulldogs connected on 11-of-16 to pull away for the win. MSU jumped to a quick, 55-46, lead that included five from senior Armelie Lumanu.
Four Bulldogs scored in double digits, led by Govero with 22 points. Alexis Rack scored 17, followed by Lumanu with 13 points and team-highs of 10 rebounds and six steals. Chanel Mokango rounded out the group with 12 points.
LAST TIME AGAINST MISSISSIPPI STATE IN STARKVILLE (Feb. 15, 2009)
Bonner scored four of her game-high 25 points in the final 1:03 to lead Auburn to the win. She also tallied the 38th double-double of her career, and her first since playing at Arkansas on Jan. 18, with her team-leading 10 rebounds.
Senior point guard Whitney Boddie, along with fellow senior Sherell Hobbs, also hit a pair of free throws each in the final 20 seconds to seal the victory for Auburn. AU was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 90 seconds, finishing the game at 71.4 percent (20-of-28). Boddie finished the game second on the team with 18 points and three assists. Hobbs was the only other Tiger in double figures with 13 points.
The game would experience four lead changes and six ties in the second half before Auburn would be able to pull away for the win. Alexis Rack led Mississippi State with eight points, shooting 2-of-8 from beyond the arc. Armelie Lumanu followed with six points and a team-best five rebounds.
Rack led the Bulldogs with 15 points and six assists while Robin Porter picked up 13 points and eight rebounds. Lumanu led MSU with 10 rebounds while Chanel Mokango, the SEC's leading shot blocker, was held to just two blocks and six points.
LAST TIME OUT FOR AUBURN
LSU forced 15 Auburn turnovers in the game, 10 in the first half, and turned them into 21 points off turnovers. The smothering LSU defense also limited Auburn to 35.7 percent shooting from the field, including a paltry 19.0 percent in the first half.
Auburn scored a season-low 13 points in the first half, allowing 42 LSU points for a 29-point deficit. Auburn out-scored the Lady Tigers 38-33 in the second half, but it was not enough as LSU cruised to the win.
Allison Hightower led the Lady Tigers with 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting. LaSondra Barrett followed with 13 points and nine rebounds while Adrienne Webb scored 10 points off the bench.
LSU shot 46.6 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range. The Lady Tigers also out-rebounded Auburn, 35-31.
LAST TIME OUT FOR MISSISSIPPI STATE
The victory proved even more resounding since MSU played without the services of leading scorer Alexis Rack. Rack suffered a foot injury in the Feb. 11, 55-53, win over South Carolina and did not dress for Sunday's victory.
MSU jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first 10 minutes of the game and led by as many as 14 in the first half. The Bulldogs cruised in the second half, leading by 21 early in the final period, eventually winning by 19.
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 25 of 58 shots from the field (43.1 percent), 6 of 18 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 17 of 22 shots from the foul line (77.3 percent). The Lady Rebels hit 20 of 56 shots from the field (35.7 percent), 6 of 30 shots from 3-point range (20.0 percent) and 8 of 12 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent).
MSU held a 39-35 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 16 assists and 12 turnovers, while the Lady Rebels had 11 assists and 18 turnovers
AUBURN VS. THE SEC
Fortner is in her sixth season at Auburn and seventh overall as a collegiate head coach, holding a 130-82 career record. Fanning-Otis is in her 15th season at MSU, but 33rd overall as a college head coach. She owns a 250-195 record with the Bulldogs
THE FANNING CONNECTION
ON THIS DATE. . .
AGAINST THE MAGNOLIA STATE
When playing in the state of Mississippi, Auburn holds a 24-31 record and a 12-12 record when playing in Starkville. Records against teams when playing in Mississippi: Alabama [Starkville] (0-1), Delta State [Cleveland] (0-1), Florida [Starkville] (0-2), Florida [Oxford] (1-0), Georgia [Oxford] (1-0), Mississippi [Oxford] (9-10), Mississippi College [Clinton] (0-1), Mississippi State [Starkville] (11-9), Mississippi University for Women [Columbus] (0-3), Southern Mississippi [Hattiesburg] (1-2), Tennessee [Oxford] (0-1), Valdosta State [Cleveland] (0-1) and Vanderbilt [Starkville] (1-0).
JOIN THE CLUB
MOVING ON UP
Entering Sunday's game, she needs 24 points to tie Tiffany Krantz (1996-2000) for 22nd place. She is also five 3-pointers away from tying Williams for third all-time in career 3-pointers.
Senior KeKe Carrier made her way into the top 30 on Feb. 4 against South Carolina, scoring 14 points to tie Whitney Boddie (2005-09) for 30th all-time with 951 points. She is currently ranked in a tie for 28th with 971 points and is nine points from tying Diann McNeil (1984-88) for 27th.
The remainder of the roster is made up of three sophomores and three freshman. Auburn has started multiple freshmen in 10 games this season with Morgan Toles, Nicolle Thomas and Blanche Alverson earning the starting nod at least once.
GOING TO THE O-BOARDS
FILLING A VOID
Only two teams in the country, UC Riverside (eight players, 5,903 points) and Maryland (six players, 5,33 points) lost more points. UC Riverside (3,219 rebounds) and Wintrop (six players, 2,560 rebounds) lost more rebounds. No team in the country lost more assists or steals.
DISHING IT OUT
It is also the first time for an Auburn freshman to record double-digit assists since Kristen Mulligan handed out 11 against LSU on Jan. 24, 1993 - more than 17 years ago.
Nationally, Toles ranks 12th in the country among freshmen (94th overall) in assists and 11th in the country (137th overall) in assist-to-turnover ratio.
EXCITING SEC GAMES
Auburn has had five games decided by three points or less in the SEC this season and accounts for two of the seven overtime games.
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