Victoria Vivians scored 23 points and Teaira McCowan had 21 points and 16 rebounds to help No. 2 Mississippi State defeat Kentucky 74-55 on Sunday.
In front of a second straight sellout crowd at Humphrey Coliseum, Coach Vic Schaefer defeated Kentucky for the first time in his career. The Bulldogs had lost 11 straight games in the series before Sunday’s win.
“I didn’t want to go my whole college career without beating them,” Vivians said. “It felt good to come out with the win.”
Roshunda Johnson worked Mississippi State through a relatively cold first quarter, hitting five three-pointers for 15 points. Despite the 35-percent shooting in the first 20 minutes, the Bulldogs were up 40-22.
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Kentucky’s Maci Morris got going in the third quarter, scoring 11 points in the first 5:30 and helping the Cats close that 18-point lead down to nine at 50-41.
The Bulldogs (26-0, 12-0 SEC) got control of the ball game late in the period, extending the lead to 56-43 and the Cats never got it back down to single digits.
“Morris came out and made some shots in that third quarter,” said Bulldogs point guard Morgan William, who had eight assists and no turnovers. “I think our defense just wore on them as the quarter went on from there. We played better on-ball defense.”
Kentucky (12-14, 4-8) was led by Morris’ 21 points before she fouled out in the fourth quarter. The Cats won the battle of the boards against the Bulldogs 39-33 but MSU forced 19 turnovers.
“To outrebound this team is a really tough task and shows how hard we played,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said.
“I think that we did some good things today and really found some stuff that worked there in the second half. We will be better because of this game.”
▪ A third sellout for MSU was announced for Sunday’s Texas A&M game.
“If I was a fan, I’d be in here every night,” Schaefer said. “(The players) are just really special. I think our fans are very educated and they love these kids and this program. That’s part of building a program, but you’ve got to give these kids all the credit because of how they respect and honor the game.”
▪ Morris reached double digits in points for the 22nd time this season. She’s scored 20 or more in seven of those games.
Arkansas at Kentucky
7 p.m. Thursday (SEC Plus)