FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Jordan Danberry made little effort to hide the importance of her return to Arkansas and the final game of her career in her home state.
The Mississippi State senior did plenty of talking with her game, too, on Thursday night, scoring a career-high 26 points as the No. 7 Bulldogs opened Southeastern Conference play with a 93-69 win over the Razorbacks.
Danberry, from Conway, Arkansas, transferred from the Razorbacks to the Bulldogs (13-1, 1-0 SEC) as a sophomore. The 5-foot-8 guard returned to Bud Walton Arena on Thursday in front of a number of friends and family members, and she played like she had a point to prove.
“It was really important just to come back my senior year and play here in front of my family,” Danberry said. “… This is a real special night to play here again.”
Danberry scored 14 of her points in the first quarter and finished 11 of 21 from the field, topping her previous scoring mark of 20 points, against Washington last month. She matched that previous best with a basket on the break and later topped it with a layup that put Mississippi State up 71-39.
“She probably came out with a point to prove,” Arkansas sophomore Chelsea Dungee said. “She played well.”
Teaira McCowan added 16 points and 22 rebounds for Mississippi State. The preseason SEC Player of the Year was 7 of 11 from the field and played only 25 minutes, leading the Bulldogs to a 57-31 rebounding advantage.
Jazzmun Holmes added 14 points and Chloe Bibby 11 in the win.
Dungee led Arkansas (11-4, 0-1) with 25 points and also had four blocks. The loss ended a six-game winning streak for the Razorbacks, who shot just 37.5 percent (27 of 72) in the loss.
Taylah Thomas was 6 of 7 from the field and added 15 points for the Razorbacks, and Alexis Tolefree 11 for Arkansas.
“As expected, Mississippi State is indeed one of the best teams in the country,” Razorbacks coach Mike Neighbors said. “You think you’re doing a decent job and then you look up and you’re down 20.”
The Bulldogs came just short of extending their school record of six 100-point games this season. Mississippi State entered the game leading the country with an average of 92.6 points per game and had topped the century mark in each of its last two games, including a 104-36 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday. With Danberry leading the way early, the Bulldogs hit 14 of their first 18 shots on Thursday before cooling off and hitting 37 of 75 shots (49.3 percent) in the win.
After averaging only 2.8 points in 9.6 minutes last year in her first season with Mississippi State, Danberry has now scored in double figures in all but two games this season. She entered the game averaging 12.1 points and has now scored 58 points over her last three games. “Jordan’s locked in right now,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said.
The Bulldogs host No. 16 Kentucky on Sunday.
Arkansas travels to Mississippi on Sunday.
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