The #10/10 Texas Longhorns will host the #6/6 Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The teams have met four previous times and the series is knotted at 2-2. The Bulldogs won the first game 71-63 back on March 21, 2009. Texas won the next two games 73-55 (Nov. 26, 2009) and 53-47 (Dec. 02, 2015). Mississippi State won the last game on Nov. 20, 2016 by a score of 79-68. Both teams come into this game ranked in the top ten and undefeated with identical 7-0 records. This game will be first big test for Mississippi State as none of the seven teams they have defeated have a winning record. It will as well for Texas. Of the seven teams, only two have winning records with the best being Michigan. The Bulldogs have not been in a close game while Texas just came from three tough games in the Gulf Coast Showcase. As of 11/29/18, Texas has a Massey rating of 7 while Miss. State has one of 4. A comparison of the Massey Ratings for the two teams’ opponents as of 11-29-18: Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-0): The Bulldogs are led by their inside duo of Teaira McCowan (#15, 6-7 Sr. C) at 19.4 ppg and Anriel Howard (#5, 5-11 Grad. F) who is averaging 13.6 ppg. Joining them in scoring in double digits are Chloe Bibby (#55, 6-1 Soph. F; 12.4 ppg), Andra Espinoza-Hunter (#2, 5-11 RS Soph. G; 11.2 ppg) and Jordan Danberry (#24, 5-8 Sr. G; 11.0 ppg). Eight of the 12 active players are hitting at least 50% of their shots. McCowan tops the group with a FG% of 71.3%. Danberry is second at 63.0%. I would put Nyah Tate (#20, 6-0 Soph. G) at second but she has only played in one (Jackson State) and did not play in their last game. She is at 66.7% from the field but has only taken three shots. Miss. State has five players that have taken at least 11 treys. Espinoza-Hunter has taken the most 3s even though she has only played in six games while the others have played in seven games. She is 13 of 35 for 37.1%. The most accurate shooter from BTA has been Danberry who has connected on 58.8% of her treys (20-34). Howard, while taking the fewest 3s of the group, has the third best percentage at 36.4% (4-11). Myah Taylor (#1, 5-7 RS Fr. G) has made 5 of 16 (31.3%) while Xaria Wiggins (#11, 6-1 6-1 Fr. G/F) continues to struggle somewhat, making 5 of 21 (23.8%). McCowan (22-34; 64.7%) and Howard (21-31; 67.7%) are the Bulldogs making the most trips to the FT line. Bre’Amber Scott (#23, 5-11 Soph. G) is the leader in FT% at 84.6% (22-26). McCowan (11.7 rpg) and Howard (8.4 rpg) are the top rebounders for Miss. State. Jessika Carter (#4, 6-5 Fr. F/C) is third at 6.0 rpg while Bibby adds 5.9 rpg. Six Bulldogs have reached double digit assists. Jazzmun Holmes (#10, 5-8 Sr. G) is tops with 34 assists. Danberry has dished out 28 while Taylor has 27 assists. McCowan is the national leader in total blocks with 25 while Carter is fourth nationally with 19. Every player except Tate has at least one steal. The top four are Holmes (12), Danberry (10) and Bibby and Wiggins with nine each. The starters for Miss. State have been constant since the first game. McCowan, Howard, Bibby, Danberry and Holmes. Five of the others have seen action in all seven games. Zion Campbell (#25, 6-3 RS Jr. C) also helps provide relief in the post. Espinoza-Hunter has played in six games while Tate has seen action in only one game. Promise Taylor (#13, 6-5 Soph. C), transfer from Ole Miss after the coach was fired, is still waiting to see if she will be allowed to play this season by the NCAA. Bibby’s 25.6 mpg is the most a player is averaging for the Bulldogs. All the starters average over 20 mpg. Espinoza-Hunter averages just over 20 mpg while four of the other reserves average between 13 and 18 mpg. TEXAS LONGHORNS (7-0) After seven games, Jatarie is the leading scorer for Texas at 12.7 ppg. Danni (9.4 ppg) and Sug (9.3 ppg) are close to breaking into double digits. Audrey (8.1 ppg), Destiny (8.1 ppg) and Charli (7.9 ppg) help to provide balanced scoring. Destiny and Charli do it coming of the bench. Jatarie is making 60.3% of her FGs (41-68) while Jada (54.5%; 18-33) and Olamide (56.3%; 9-16) join her in shooting over 50% from the field. Horns have four primary 3pt shooters. Danni (14-38; 36.8%) is on fire after starting out 1-12. Destiny has made 8 of 30 (26.7%) while Sug is connecting on 23.5% (4-17) on treys. Audrey has had three treys go in while attempting 18 (16.7%). Texas is doing a good job in getting to the FT line with five players having reached double digits in FT attempts. Sug with 17 has the most attempts although she has made only nine (52.9%). Danni has the best FT% at 85.7% (6-7). Charli (10-13; 76.9%), Audrey (10-14; 71.4%) and Jatarie (7-10; 70.0%) are the others hitting at least 70% from the FT line. Jatarie and Sug are tied for the lead in rebounding at 5.6 rpg. Jada and Charli bring down 4.9 rpg each. Danni, Destiny and Audrey each grab 4.1 rpg. Sug tops the league in number of assists (45) and apg (6.4). Danni is second with 12 assists and Jada is third with ten assists. Texas is not a big shot blocking team. Charli witheight blocks is the only player with more than three, although three players have three blocks each. Each player has at least two steals with Audrey (9), Sug (8) and Jada (8) at the top. All nine active players have played in all seven games. Sug, Audrey, Jatarie, Danni and Jada have started the last three games. Danni (29.4 mpg) and Sug (27.9 mpg) have the highest mpg on the team. Six of the nine average 20 plus mpg. The other three average over 11 mpg. LINEUPS Projected lineups are based on the previous game’s starting lineups. All American McCowan and rebounding whiz Howard will test the Texas posts. Carter gives them a solid relief post player at 6-5 while Campbell adds another big to the mix. . Texas will counter with Jatarie, Jada, 6-5 frosh Charli and Olamide. Texas’ ability to keep McCowan in check and keep Jatarie and Charli out of foul trouble could decide the game. While trying to slow down McCowan, they can’t afford to forget about Howard. Jatarie has plenty of experience going against taller posts in the Big 12. She has shown an ability to score on taller posts, one reason why the Horns can ill afford to have her sitting on the bench with foul trouble. Danni is the most experienced backcourt starter on either team’s backcourt. She started the last two seasons at Tx A&M. For Miss. State, the problem will be stopping Sug’s ability to score and to get the ball to open teammates. For Texas, it will be two-fold: keep Miss. State from getting open looks from BTA and keep McCowan from establishing position inside. STATS COMPARISON The Bulldogs like to run even more than Texas does. It helps when you two of the top rebounders in your conference getting you the ball. Having the top shot blocker in the nation anchoring the middle allows Miss. State backcourt players to over play on defense, knowing that they have McCowan to help erase most errors. Texas will have to rely on their middle game much more than normal, getting a shot off before running into McCowan’s reach. For Miss. State, this will be the first time this season they will face a team as quick, fast and physical as Texas. No question that McCowan and Howard are used to that. The question is whether the Bulldogs’ backcourt is ready to deal with that. Texas has dealt with that recently in the Gulf Coast Showcase. Massey’s gives MSU the edge by eight points while giving Texas about a one in 4 chance of winning. I think the Horns’ experience in tight games this season and playing at home plus this being the Bulldogs’ first major challenge will result in the Horns pulling off the upset. This is going to be one the season’s early showcase games, with two top ten teams playing in Austin. Game time is 1 PM CST. The game will be seen on FS1 with the radio broadcast on 105.3 FM.