McCowan's 26 points lifts Miss. St to 86-62 win over Georgia
By BLAKE GILES, Associated Press
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Mississippi State's Vic Schaefer walked out of Georgia's Stegeman Coliseum with a win Sunday for the first time in 21 years.
No. 5 Mississippi State (15-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) got 26 points and 13 rebounds from 6-foot-7 center Teaira McCowan to beat Georgia 86-62 in the conference opener for both teams.
"I have never won here," said Schaefer, speaking of his time as an assistant coach and as a head coach. "It is good to finally walk off with a victory."
It was Mississippi State's first win in Athens since a 72-71 squeaker in 2002.
Victoria Vivians scored 20 for State, and Roshunda Johnson added 16.
Georgia (12-2, 0-1 SEC) got 13 points from Caliya Robinson and 10 apiece from MacKenzie Engram and Haley Clark.
Schaefer and Georgia Coach Joni Taylor agreed that Mississippi State's inside-outside balance is formidable.
"With our shooters, we make it hard to guard us," Schaefer said. "We got a lot of good looks today."
Two years ago Georgia held Mississippi State to 43 points, and last year, State won 58-49, trailing with nine minutes to play.
"They are much better offensively," Taylor explained. "If you play them man, they go inside. If you zone, they stretch you. We did not mix up our defense well enough."
McCowan scored nine of Mississippi State's 16 points in the first quarter when not much else was going right. She gathered in 12 of her 13 rebounds in the first half.
Mississippi State came in accustomed to a fast start, averaging a 25-13 first-quarter spread. But it was Georgia that bolted out of the gate, scoring the first two baskets in less than a minute, prompting an early timeout call by Schaefer.
"After that timeout, until the last five minutes, we played special today," Schaefer said. "We have been practicing against a six-man zone to make the extra pass, and we did today."
Mississippi State managed a 16-14 lead at the quarter break, thanks to nine points by McCowan. State took over in the second quarter and led 33-19 with 3:50 to go in the half. A pair of 3-pointers by Blair Schaefer and Vivians' midrange game sparked the surge.
McCowan had a first-half double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds as State led 37-27 at the half. She has seven straight double-double games.
In the second half, McCown kept scoring inside, and Johnson sank three 3-pointers, putting State on top 61-35 with 2:11 to go in the third quarter.
Georgia never mounted a serious threat down the stretch.
The inside dominance of the 6-foot-7 McCowan coupled with athletic perimeter players like Vivians and Johnson mark Mississippi State as a legitimate threat to return to the Final Four.
Vic Schaefer was delighted with the contingent of spectators who cheered for his team in Athens. "We had a tremendous fan base here today," he said. "That is what building a program is all about, people traveling with you. I was thrilled with the fans who made the drive up from Jacksonville after our football team's great win. That was special for us to walk out for warmups and have those people cheering for us."
Georgia continues its SEC slate with a trip to Vanderbilt Thursday.
Mississippi returns home for a conference game against Arkansas Thursday.Associated Press