LEXINGTON, Ky. – The first mission is now complete.
No. 2 Mississippi State completed an undefeated regular season in women's basketball with an 85-63 Southeastern Conference win over Kentucky Sunday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum.
The Bulldogs improved to 30-0 overall and finished league play at 16-0. MSU joins the 1997-98 Tennessee squad as the only two SEC schools with undefeated regular seasons. The 30-straight wins mark the second-longest win streak in SEC history.MSU also finished a season-sweep of Kentucky, thanks to its first win in Lexington since 2009. Kentucky fell to 14-16 and 6-10.
MSU will open SEC Tournament play at Noon CT Friday in Nashville, Tennessee. The Bulldogs will have a double bye in the event and will need three wins to take the tournament title.
Teaira McCowan led the Bulldogs with 20 points, 20 rebounds and five blocked shots. McCowan has pulled down 20 rebounds in four games this season, while notching 20-plus points and 20-plus rebounds three times. It was her 22nd double-double on the season.
Victoria Vivians also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Roshunda Johnson had 15 points, while Blair Schaefer had 12 points and Chloe Bibby had 10 points.
"Extremely proud of our program, the players and my staff," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "It's hard to get this gauntlet of play and to be where we are. Kentucky is always a difficult matchup, especially at home. It's the first time we didn't have a shoot around on game day. I liked our focus. (McCowan) always has two or three people battling her, and she has a 20-20.
To deal with what she has to deal with down there is amazing.
"(Vivians) was really good tonight. A double-double with five assists. That is what All-Americans do. They affect the game in so many different ways. Defensively, we battled because they are hard to guard. Our help mentality and our sharing of the basketball was good. We have been consistent with that throughout the year."
MSU erased an early 11-5 deficit with a 12-2 run, which was capped by a 3-pointer from Schaefer, A layup by McCowan closed out the first quarter with the Bulldogs leading 21-18.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs took control of the game by scoring nine straight points. Back-to-back baskets by Bibby and McCowan ran the lead to 30-18.
The Bulldogs later ended the half with six straight points for a 46-31 lead the break.
Bibby hit a couple of 3-point baskets as the Bulldogs pushed the lead past 20 points in the third quarter. Kentucky got no closer than 15 in the final period.
For the contest, MSU hit 35 of 67 shots from the field (52.2 percent), 10 of 18 shots from 3-point range (55.6 percent) and 5 of 10 shots from the foul line (50.0 percent). Kentucky hit 22 of 52 shots from the field (42.3 percent), 4 of 12 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 15 of 18 shots from the foul line (83.3 percent).
MSU held a 40-23 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 24 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Wildcats had 14 assists and 14 turnovers.
Kentucky received 22 points from Maci Morris, 13 points from Dorie Harrison and 11 points from Amanda Paschal.
The SEC Champs will host the final installment of the Hail State Hoops luncheon series Monday at 11:30 a.m. Later that night, associate head coach Johnnie Harris will be on the air for another episode of DawgTalk at 7 p.m. from The Veranda.