State No. 7 in AP Top 25, hosts UAFS in Friday exhibition

Courtesy: MSU Athletics
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STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State women's basketball begins the season where it left off last season in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll – No. 7.

The No. 7 rating marks the highest ranking ever for the Bulldogs in the AP preseason poll. State started last season No. 10. Wednesday's poll also marked the Bulldogs' 56th-straight week in the poll and 20th week in a row in the Top 10. Both active streaks are in the Top 10 nationally.

The ranking comes on the eve of MSU opening 2017-18 with a Friday night exhibition against Arkansas-Fort Smith. Tip for the contest is set for 6 p.m., and the contest will be streamed online on SEC Network +. Fans can watch the broadcast on www.watchespn.com or via the WatchESPN app.

Admission to Friday's game is free.

Mississippi State is coming off a historic season that saw the Bulldogs win a school-record 34 games en route to advancing to the national championship game in the program's first Final Four appearance.

The Bulldogs return nine letterwinners from that time, including Preseason All-SEC picks Victoria Vivians, Morgan William and Teaira McCowan.

GAME INFORMATION
Opponent: Arkansas-Fort Smith
Date: Friday, November 3, 2017
Location: Humphrey Coliseum
Time: 6 p.m.
Doors Open: 4:30 p.m.
Live Stream: SEC Network + (http://hailst.at/2xAkEwc)

GET TO KNOW THE OPPONENT
Arkansas-Fort Smith is coached by second-year coach Elena Lovato. Lovato is familiar to MSU fans as she was an assistant coach under Vic Schaefer the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
Lovato's squad knocked off Tulsa 61-58 on Wednesday in exhibition action. Tayla Taylor paced the Lady Lions' win with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Taylor was UAFS's leading scorer a year ago, averaging 12.2 ppg as the Lady Lions went 17-13.

NEXT UP FOR THE BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs begin the slate with a Nov. 10 men's-women's doubleheader at Humphrey Coliseum. The men's team hosts Alabama State at 5:30 p.m., and Schaefer's squad takes on a Virginia team that is receiving votes at 8 p.m.
Between games, a special Final Four banner-raising ceremony will be held to commemorate the historic campaign.
Tickets are being sold separately from season ticket packages and can be purchased at www.hailstate.com/tickets or by phone at 1-888-GO-DAWGS.

BULLDOG BITES
Mississippi State has won its last 11 exhibition games. MSU is 3-0 in that stretch against UAFS.
UAFS head coach Elena Lovato was an assistant coach under Vic Schaefer the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
The Bulldogs' 2017-18 slate is a challenging one, including 18 teams that advanced to the postseason a year ago.
State is coming off the best season in program history, setting school records with 34 overall wins and 13 SEC wins en route to advancing to the national title game in the program's first Final Four appearance.
The Bulldog senior class has amassed 89 career victories, 8th most in the nation since 2014-15 and 2nd in the SEC in that span.
State is No. 4 in the Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 7 in the Associated Press Preseason Poll. Both are the highest preseason rankings in program history.
MSU was picked to finish 2nd in the SEC by both league media and coaches.
Victoria Vivians and Morgan William were preseason 1st team All-SEC selections by both, while Teaira McCowan was a 2nd team selection by the coaches.
Vivians enters her senior season with 1,754 career points. That is 2 points shy of tying Alexis Rack for 3rd in program annals. She is 254 points away from becoming the third player in school history to reach 2,000-career points.
William is State's career leader in assists (480) and free-throw percentage (84.3%). Her free-throw percentage mark is 9th in SEC history.
The Bulldogs are seeking to claim a fifth-straight 20-win season. MSU only had four winning campaigns in the 38 years prior to Schaefer's arrival in Starkville.