Mississippi State (13-7) at Vanderbilt (11-8)

The Sports NetworkFebruary 1, 2014 

GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores will try to extend their winning streak to three games on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the Mississippi State Bulldogs to Memorial Gymnasium for an SEC showdown.

Mississippi State has lost back-to-back games, most recently dropping a 62-51 decision to Florida on Thursday night to slip under .500 in SEC play at 3-4. The Bulldogs are still in the midst of a strong campaign overall at 13-7, but they have yet to win a true road game in four tries and has lost 12 in a row on the road dating back to last season.

Both of Vanderbilt's triumphs on its current winning streak came on the road, as it dismissed Texas A&M last Saturday (66-55) before taking care of business at Georgia on Wednesday night (59-54). The Commodores' recent surge has allowed them to improve to 11-8 overall and 3-4 in the SEC, and now they return home to Nashville, where they've won seven of 10.

In regards to the all-time series, Vanderbilt holds a comfortable 75-45 advantage over Mississippi State, which includes a win in the only meeting last season in Starkville, 72-31.

The Bulldogs battled tough with Florida for much of their most recent contest, but after claiming a one-point lead early in the second half, they lost control following an 18-4 run by the Gators. Their field-goal percentage (.426) didn't hurt them in the low-scoring affair, but they had only six attempts at the foul line, making just one. Colin Borchert paced the squad with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Craig Sword and I.J. Ready put up 12 and 10 points, respectively.

On the season, Mississippi State is barely able to outpace its opponents, shooting 45.3 percent from the field for 69.9 ppg while allowing 68.9 ppg on 43.9 percent shooting, and its terrible showing at the free-throw line has become an unfortunate trend (.647). Sword posts a team-best 13.9 ppg on 51.3 percent from the field, while Gavin Ware (10.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg) mans the paint and shoots just shy of 60 percent from the floor. Borchert (10.6 ppg) and Roquez Johnson (9.8 ppg) are also regular contributors.

The Commodores dug themselves an 8-2 hole less than four minutes into their bout with Georgia earlier in the week but took control with a 23-7 run and never trailed for the rest of the game. They shot a lackluster 38.5 percent from the field on the night, but were led by an outstanding defensive effort that forced UGA into a lowly 27.3 percent shooting. Rod Odom was the catalyst with 16 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Dai-Jon Parker (15 points) and Kyle Fuller (13) each handed out four assists.

Vanderbilt has one of the SEC's worst offenses, as it shoots 44.6 percent from the field this season for 67.8 ppg, but it has improved its play of late thanks to a strong showing on the defensive end of the court, holding teams to just 39.9 percent field goal shooting and 66.5 ppg. Odom records team highs in both scoring (14.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg) and has drained 56-of-128 from beyond the arc. Fuller (11.2 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Damian Jones (10.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) round out the double-digit scorers.

These teams appear evenly-matched, but considering Mississippi State's road woes and Vanderbilt's impressive play of late, figure for the Commodores to come out victorious.

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