McCowan, Mississippi State dominate Ole Miss 66-44
Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan (15) dominated Ole Miss to the tune of 17 points and 18 rebounds Sunday.(Photo: AP)
OXFORD – Vic Schaefer knows Mississippi State President Mark Keenum puts an emphasis on the in-state rivalry with Ole Miss before SEC championships.
“I get that message loud and clear,” Schaefer said. It was abundantly clear Sunday as the No. 3 Bulldogs dominated the Rebels 66-44 at The Pavilion. It was Mississippi State’s seventh consecutive victory in the rivalry.
“I guess I’ve got job security for maybe one more year,” Schaefer said.
It took about a quarter, but once the Bulldogs (25-1, 11-1 SEC) started rolling, the Rebels (15-10, 4-8) didn’t have much hope of slowing them down. Mississippi State blew the game open with a 24-4 second quarter. And the star of that was 6-foot-7 sophomore Teaira McCowan, who finished with 17 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks off the bench. She had a double-double by halftime and was a force in the paint on both ends. There was a 20-second span in the second quarter where McCowan tipped a ball in for a score off an inbound pass and followed that by sending an Ole Miss shot into the stands on the defensive end.
“I thought Teaira was really special during that time,” Schaefer said. “She was a great helper. Every time they penetrated she was there. I just thought she was really a great impact on the game when she was in there. She played 31 minutes (Sunday). That’s the most she’s played all year. She’s probably going to sleep pretty good tonight.”
It was McCowan’s second double-double of the season and the seventh time in the past 10 games she’s finished in double-figure scoring.
“I know I have to play well and put myself in that position because if (guard Victoria Vivians) is not on, then somebody else has to go off and have a good game,” McCowan said. “I just have to pick up wherever somebody else left off.”
Vivians struggled against the Rebels. She made just three of her 21 shots and finished with 11 points. Mississippi State was 1 of 15 from 3 as well. But none of that ultimately mattered as the Bulldogs held Ole Miss to 29.6 percent shooting, 10 percent shooting from 3, outrebounded the Rebels by 15 and forced 21 turnovers. Guard Dominique Dillingham also chipped in 12 points.
“This is obviously an emotional game for a lot of people,” Schaefer said. “For us, it was just the next one to be honest.”
The business-like approach paid off just as it has most of the season for Mississippi State, which tied the school record with 11 SEC wins, a mark it has reached each of the past two seasons. Ole Miss led for 1:52 in the first quarter after not leading in the first meeting with MSU. But all it did was essentially delay the blitzkrieg a little while longer. The Rebels trailed 17-14 after the first period but committed 12 of its 24 turnovers in the second and made just one of its 10 field goals.
“When you look at the second quarter we get 10 shot attempts, they get 26,” Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said. “And we went 1-for-4 from the free-throw line. … They just outhustled us point blank.”
Erika Sisk led the Rebels with 14 points while Madinah Muhammad and Taylor Manuel each added 10. The Bulldogs did a good job of limiting Shandricka Sessom, who was averaging 12.5 points. Sessom missed all eight of her shots and scored three points while adding nine rebounds. Ole Miss lost its second consecutive home game and has now dropped six of its past eight games. Five of those losses have come by double digits, and two have come by the hands of Mississippi State.
“We’ve got to go back and do some soul-searching among ourselves as players, and we’ll get better from this,” said Insell, whose father Rick Insell coaches at Middle Tennessee State, was chosen for induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame earlier in the day. “We’ve got four games left and this basketball team is going to win a lot in these four. We just ran into a little buzzsaw (Sunday).”