No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs came out swinging and never looked back in the team’s 89-74 win over No. 15 South Carolina Gamecocks last night. The Gamecocks put together a short-lived lead in the second quarter and, by the end of the third quarter, had pulled the game to within one point. But the Bulldogs went into overdrive — extending their runs, thereby, extending the lead, for the win.
Here are the takeaways:
Senior center Teaira McCowan came up big
McCowan — averaging a double-double for the season — scored 26 points and grabbed 24 rebounds against the Gamecocks, putting her career double-doubles at 53. But this double-double is special because it is McCowan’s first 20-20 (at least 20 points, at least 20 rebounds) of the season. And, let’s be honest: With 26 points, McCowan was inching close to 30-20 territory, and it should shock no one if she puts together a 30-30 game at some point.
The Bulldogs cashed in by crashing the boards
Actually, Mississippi State splintered the boards against South Carolina, taking away second-chance scoring opportunities from the Gamecocks on the defensive end and creating second-chance scoring possibilities on the offensive end. It breaks down like this:
Offensive rebounds: Mississippi State, 23 — South Carolina, 10
Defensive rebounds: Mississippi State, 26 — South Carolina, 14
Total rebounds: Mississippi State, 49 — South Carolina, 24
In other words, the Bulldogs grabbed twice as many rebounds as the Gamecocks, with Teaira McCowan pulling down as many rebounds as the entire South Carolina team by herself.
The Gamecocks occupied the No. 1 spot in the SEC standings for exactly four days, with the Bulldogs now reclaiming that spot after Thursday night’s win. With South Carolina now third in the SEC, it will be interesting to see how this plays out on the national scene. The Bulldogs have been stuck at No. 7 in the AP top 25 for quite a while, while the Gamecocks have climbed from the bottom of the top 25 to No. 15, despite weeks in which it was hard to attribute the Gamecocks’ placement in the top 25 to anything but mercy and grace. Will the AP poll voters be as generous to South Carolina this week as they’ve been all season? Will Mississippi State finally benefit from its sustained excellence?
The Gamecocks face a tough Missouri team on Monday, Jan. 21 (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2), while the Bulldogs don’t play again until Thursday, Jan. 24, when they face Florida on the road (7 p.m. ET on SEC Network Plus).