Georgia Lady Bulldogs (8-0) vs. No. 12 Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-1)
Thursday, Dec. 31 | 6:30 p.m. ET | Stegeman Coliseum (1,638) | Athens, Ga.
Watch: SEC Network (Eric Frede (play-by-play)/Tamika Catchings (analyst))
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Listen: Georgia Bulldogs Sports Network (Jeff Dantzler)
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• Undefeated Georgia hosts No. 12-ranked Mississippi State on New Year’s Eve night at Stegeman Coliseum. Tip time is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network and the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
• Georgia — which is receiving votes in the AP poll — is 8-0 and off to its best start in seven seasons.
• Georgia has won 13 of its last 16 games dating back to last year. The Lady Bulldogs’ three losses in this stretch are to top-15 teams South Carolina, Texas A&M and Kentucky.
• Georgia is going for its 500th win at Stegeman Coliseum. The Lady Bulldogs have compiled a home record of 499-114 in 46 seasons at The Steg.
• Head coach Joni Taylor’s team is coming off a 107-44 win against Appalachian State. It marked the fourth time in eight games Georgia has scored over 80 points after only doing so twice in 31 contests last season.
• The 107 points scored in last Tuesday’s win were the most for a Georgia team since the 2000-01 season.
• Georgia boasts a balanced attack. All 13 available players scored a basket against App State and 11 or more Lady Bulldogs have scored a point in three-straight games.
• The Lady Bulldogs have shot over 60 percent twice this season. Entering the 2020-21 campaign, Georgia had not shot over 60 percent in a game since 2009.
• Georgia’s mantra has always been ‘Defense Travels,’ and that has once again been the case. The Lady Bulldogs have held seven of eight opponents below 40-percent shooting from the field, while four teams have scored 50 points or fewer.
• Senior center Jenna Staiti leads the SEC and is fourth nationally in total blocked shots (23). Earlier this year, she tallied a career-best seven swats against Georgia Tech.
• Staiti has scored in double figures in 16 of her last 17 games with six double-doubles during this current span.
• Georgia’s four seniors — Staiti, Gabby Connally, Maya Caldwell and Que Morrison — have combined to start 199 games in the last three years.
Scouting Mississippi State
Mississippi State is 5-1 this season with the only loss coming in overtime to South Florida. The Bulldogs are coached by women’s basketball hall of famer Nikki McCray-Penson, who is in her first season. MSU is ranked No. 12 nationally. Rickea Jackson and Jessika Carter each average over 17 points per game to lead Mississippi State.
Georgia leads the all-time series against Mississippi State 28-20. The Lady Bulldogs are looking to snap a five-game losing skid against the Bulldogs from Starkville, with the last win in the series coming in 2016.
Overall: Georgia leads, 28-20
In Athens: Georgia leads, 16-5
In Starkville: MSU leads, 13-10
Neutral Sites: Tied, 2-2
Current Streak: MSU has won the last five meetings
Last Meeting: MSU won, 67-53 (2/3/20) in Starkville
Largest Margin of Victory: 40 points, Georgia won 87-47 (2/8/1986) in Athens
Largest Defeat: 32 points, MSU won 86-54 (1/21/1978) in Starkville
Georgia Game Notes
Georgia Leads Nation in Blocks
The Lady Bulldogs lead all NCAA teams with 56 total blocks. Georgia is averaging 7.0 swats per game, which is the fourth-best average in the country and tops in the SEC.
Knocking In Free-Throws … Near Perfect at the Top
Georgia’s top three scorers — Jenna Staiti, Gabby Connally and Que Morrison — have combined to hit 47-of-49 shots at the free-throw line this year. As a team, Georgia is second in the SEC (behind Alabama) in free-throw percentage, knocking in a collective 75.6 percent from the stripe.
Georgia finished with 32 assists on 46 made baskets against Appalachian State. The 32 dimes are the fourth-most in a single game in Georgia history and the Lady Bulldogs’ best effort since 2003.
On The Road, No Problem
Georgia opened the year with three-straight road games for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign. With a perfect 3-0 record in those matchups, it marks the first time in program history Georgia won three-straight true road contests to begin a season.
The Lady Bulldogs are a much improved team on the offensive end compared to last season. Georgia is averaging 80.8 points per game in 2020 after scoring just 63.2 points per game last year.
Barker Named SEC Freshman of the Week
Sarah Ashlee Barker was named the league’s Freshman of the Week following performances against East Carolina and Oklahoma. Barker continues to play valuable minutes and has made several key plays for the Lady Bulldogs this season.
With 2:19 left in the overtime period against Georgia Tech, Barker broke open a tie game with a made jump shot to put her team up 65-63. The Lady Bulldogs did not give up the lead the rest of the way en route to a 75-69 win. Barker then hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma, giving Georgia its largest lead of the game at 14.
Barker recorded her first career double-double with 10 pts. and 12 rebs. against Georgia State.
Taylor, Connally Reach Important Marks Against Tech
Georgia defeated Georgia Tech this year to improve the Lady Bulldogs’ record to 36-7 against the Yellow Jackets. The win also marked the 100th of Coach Taylor’s career. Senior guard Gabby Connally reached the 1,000-point mark with a first-half basket against Tech.