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Mississippi State women’s basketball heads to the Daytona Beach Invitational

Bulldogs set to face nationally-ranked competition.

MSU Interim head coach Doug Novak vs. Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 22 (Credit to Austin Perryman/MSU Athletics).

The Mississippi State women’s basketball team will face its first road test of the 2021-22 season on Thanksgiving Day, participating in the Daytona Beach Invitational at Daytona Beach, Florida.

MSU will tip off against the Dayton Flyers (3-1) at on Thursday at 11 a.m. CT. On Sunday, the Bulldogs will take on No. 12 Michigan (5-0) at 3:30 p.m. CT. These two games will be broadcast on FloSports.

The Bulldogs (4-0) are coming off a dominating 94-53 win over Bethune-Cookman, and five MSU players managed to put up double-digit points in that game. Sophomore guard JerKaila Jordan scored 20 points to lead MSU scoring and graduate forward Raven Farley also set a team season-high with 13 rebounds.

Jordan, who transfered from Tulane, has made an immediate positive impact to the Bulldogs’ offense. She is averaging 19.5 points per game, good for fifth in the Southeastern Conference. Jordan is shooting at a 55.8% clip from the field, fourth in the league, and 54.2% from the 3-point line. Jordan has averaged 6.5 rebounds per game and committed just a single turnover this season, despite averaging 25 minutes a game on the hardwood.

Redshirt senior guard Myah Taylor’s 8.5 assists per game and 4.0 steals per game both lead the SEC, and her assist rate ranks second-highest in the country.

The MSU defense has grabbed 11.5 steals per game and 9.3 blocks per game, both good for second in the SEC. The Bulldogs also lead the conference with the fewest turnovers, 10 per contest.

Dayton Flyers

Head coach Shauna Green is in her sixth season in charge of the Flyers and was named Atlantic 10 coach of the year for 2020. Dayton was picked preseason Atlantic 10 favorites for 2021-22 after winning the regular-season conference crown in 2020-21.

Dayton has a 3-1 record thus far, posting wins against Alabama A&M (73-52), Toledo (69-60) and Purdue (78-62). The Flyers suffered their lone loss against Duke (56-70).

Three Dayton players average double-digit points per game, including graduate forward Erin Whalen with 16.8, sophomore guard Makira Cook with 15.5 and graduate guard Jenna Giacone with 15. Whalen leads the Flyers with 6.8 rebounds per game. Graduate guard Araion Bradshaw adds 4.8 assists per game and ranks fifth in the country with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.86. Dayton shoots 42.4% from the field and has established a plus-6.8 rebounding margin per game.

Dayton and Mississippi State have met just once previously, on Dec. 27, 1981, at the Miami Hurricane Christmas Classic in Miami. The Flyers won that game in a squeaker, 66-64.

No. 12 Michigan Wolverines

Head coach Kim Barnes Arico leads the Wolverines in her 10th season at the helm. Arico has led the Wolverines to 20 wins eight times, resulting in four NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2021. Michigan also won the 2017 National Invitation Tournament championship.

Michigan boasts a 5-0 record, with wins against IUPUI (67-62), St. Francis Brooklyn (82-46), UMass Lowell (73-54), Central Michigan (69-45) and Oakland (69-58).

Senior forward Naz Hillmon is the keystone for the Wolverines. She scores 23.3 points per game, tied for 10th best in the nation. Hillmon also adds 9.3 rebounds a game and nets a 70.2% shooting rate. Senior forward Emily Kiser scores 11 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game. Senior guard Leigha Brown adds 10 points per game.

To this point, Michigan has dominated their 2021-22 season competition with a plus-19 scoring margin and a plus-12.2 rebounding margin per game.

This will be the first-ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Wolverines.

The competition level for the MSU team ratchets up this week against Dayton and Michigan. The Bulldogs will need to show their toughness to remain undefeated.