March 2, 2013
|Auburn (15-13, 4-11 SEC) vs. Mississippi State (13-15, 5-10 SEC)|
|Date:||Sunday, March 3||Tip:||2 p.m. CT|
|Where:||Auburn Arena, Auburn, Ala.||Live Stats||Game Tracker|
|Live Video:||AuburnTigers.com||Live Audio||All-Access|
|Radio:||96.7 FM WMXA, Andy Burcham (PBP) & Stephanie Follett (color)|
|Game Notes:||Auburn Notes | Mississippi Notes | SEC Notes|
|Up Next:||Auburn will travel to Duluth, Ga., for the 2013 SEC Tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The tournament runs March 6-10.|
AUBURN - Seniors Blanche Alverson, Julie King, Najat Ouardad and Pascale West will play their final regular-season game in Auburn Arena Sunday as the Auburn women's basketball team (15-13, 4-11 SEC) takes on Mississippi State (13-15, 5-10 SEC). Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CT with doors opening at 12:30 p.m.
The senior class will be recognized in a pre-game ceremony as part of Senior Day festivities. After enduring an off-season coaching change and a new playing style, head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said she is proud of the way the group responded and has played this season.
"It really is hard your senior year having to deal with a new coach," said Williams-Flournoy. "You can't transfer, you can't go anywhere, so they kind of decided `Hey it's our senior year let's make the best of it. Let's try to do the best that we can in our last year', and I think that's what all of them have done. I am really proud of all of them and what they gave to the team this year."
The game is also the last of Alverson's Ballin' For Books days with fans encouraged to donate new or gently-used children's books prior to the game. More than 1,100 books were collected last season in the first year of the program. Auburn fans have already responded this year with more than 400 books donated last week.
Donation bins will be out at each entrance to Auburn Arena. Books will be donated to the Pine Hills literacy Project in Auburn and the Hudson Family Foundation.
The game is also the War on Hunger Food Drive. Auburn fans will receive free admission to the game with the donation of two non-perishable food items. Collections bins will be set up at each entrance.
The first 500 fans through the door will receive aluminum water bottles and the halftime entertainment will be the Red Panda Acrobat.
Auburn has made itself at home this season, winning 11 of its 14 games at Auburn Arena. The Tigers hope to continue that trend against the Bulldogs as Auburn's positions itself for next week's Southeastern Conference Tournament in Duluth, Ga.
A win for Auburn could seed the Tigers anywhere from ninth to 11th and a Thursday start to the tournament. A loss puts Auburn as the 12th seed and a Wednesday meeting against No. 13 seed Alabama.
"We have kind of bit ourselves in the foot a little bit having to play in this game, a must-win game," said Williams-Flournoy. "We have had a lot of games that would have put us in better situations as far as seeding and standings in the SEC, where we wouldn't have to play this game with the pressure of needing a win so that we are not falling behind in the standings."
Under first-year head coach Vic Schaefer, Mississippi State has struggled through the season, but seems to be peaking as the year comes to a close.
The Bulldogs went 8-5 in non-conference play, but dropped six straight to open SEC play and fall under .500 for the year. Since that 0-6 start in league play, however, Mississippi State has rebounded to go 5-5 in their last 10 games, including a big 50-38 win over No. 11 Georgia on Thursday.
"Mississippi State is playing extremely well right now, they had a big win over Georgia on Thursday, so it's a huge game for us," said Williams-Flournoy. "Martha Alwal has been playing really well for Mississippi State, she is almost averaging a double-double, so she is someone we are going to have to be aware of around the blocks."
Sophomore Martha Alwal leads the team with 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Right behind her is Kendra Grant with 11.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
The Bulldogs shoot 36.5 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3-point range. MSU turns the ball over 19.7 times per game and averages losing its games by 6.3 points per game.
Auburn is 15-13 and averaging a 20.3-point margin of victory in the 15 wins. Three Tigers are averaging double figures, led by Hasina Muhammad with 15.0 per game, including seven 20-point games, and 5.1 rebounds. Tyrese Tanner is at 12.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while Blanche Alverson comes in with 11.9 points and a team-high 6.0 boards per game.
Center Peyton Davis leads the team in the post, averaging 6.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Najat Ouardad is second in the SEC and 20th in the country in assists with 6.0 per game while scoring 4.9 points per game.
Tickets are still available for Sunday's game with prices starting at $5 for general admission. Tickets can be purchased at Auburn Arena or online at AUBTix.com. Fans can listen to the game on 96.7 FM in Auburn or on AuburnTigers.com with Andy Burcham and Stephanie Follett calling the action. GameTracker and a live video Webcast will be available on AuburnTigers.com.