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Mississippi State wins first-ever SEC Tournament title in commanding fashion

In their fifth attempt at the conference title, the Bulldogs got it done with a 101-70 blowout of Arkansas.

NCAA Womens Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament Championship - Arkansas vs Mississippi State
SEC Player of the Year Teaira McCown (left) celebrates the No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs’ tournament title on Sunday, March 10, 2019 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs are the SEC Tournament champions.

After four consecutive prior losses in the title game, the Bulldogs commanded a 101-70 victory over No. 10 Arkansas. The Razorbacks were outmatched against the defensive powerhouse that is Mississippi State, but they were never outclassed.

It took poise and passion to get past No. 3 Texas A&M in their semifinal game, and the Razorbacks came out hot against the Bulldogs, too — leading by four points halfway through the first quarter. But baskets by SEC Player of the Year Teaira McCowan and Anriel Howard (All-SEC Team) tied things up with just under five minutes left in the first period.

Then, McCowan showed another side of herself — the SEC Defensive Player of the Year side — to help the Bulldogs hold the Razorbacks to 12 points over the next seven possessions while building a 14-point lead for themselves by the end of the first quarter.

For the rest of the game, Mississippi State would keep the medal to the metal offensively and clamp down on Arkansas defensively. By halftime, the Razorbacks were down by 20 points. After the third quarter, Arkansas trailed by 25 points. At the final buzzer, the Bulldogs were celebrating a 31-point victory with confetti raining down on them.

McCowan, who scored 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots, was named tournament MVP.

Of McCowan’s performance, Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said:

We were literally drawing up plays in the dirt trying to find a way to stop her. We didn’t have a chance.

Andra Espinoza-Hunter also came up big for the Bulldogs, rediscovering her three-point shot to score 24 points off eight three-pointers. Bre’Amber Scott contributed a whopping 20 points off the bench.

Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer finally got to cut down the title net. With it draped around his neck, he said, “This is certainly special.”

Next up, the Bulldogs face a waiting game to see where they will be seeded for the NCAA Tournament. But this game of waiting to get earned, overdue respect is not new to Mississippi State, which found itself ranked behind AP Poll favorites all season, like UConn, whose record never shone as bright as the Bulldogs’.

“I don’t know what else you can do,” Schaefer said.

That’s because the Bulldogs have done it all.

So, the rest of the world will be watching, too, to see if the NCAA committee will determine seeding by what teams have earned with their play in actual games. And if the committee decides seeding by some other measure, those reasons should be disclosed.


Original story:

The SEC regular season ended with a bang on Sunday, with the No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs going down to the wire against the No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia to get the 68-64 win and clench the SEC Championship outright.

Bulldogs center Teaira McCowan was the team-high scorer with 18 points, and the 17 boards she grabbed put her at 63 career double-doubles.

McCowan averaged a double-double for the regular season, with 17.3 points and 13.4 rebounds, which was enough to earn her the Co-Player of the Week award for the final week of the regular season. McCowan was also just named SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Let’s just say Ms. McCowan is having a great week. File to: UNDERSTATEMENT.

Now, McCowan and the Bulldogs will get a few days of rest from competition while the lower seeds battle to stay alive. Other key players gifted with byes in the first two rounds include: Co-Player of the Week Chennedy Carter of the No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies along with just-named SEC Freshman of the Year Rhyne Howard and just-named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Maci Morris — both of the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats.

Key players starting play in the second round are Freshman of the Week Mimi Collins of the No. 8 Tennessee Lady Volunteers and just-named SEC Sixth Woman of the Year Cierra Porter of the No. 5 Missouri Tigers.

The complete list of winners of the season awards can be found here:

Before these award winners make their appearances, however, the teams at the bottom of the conference will have to duke it out for a chance to advance. With the SEC being a fertile ground for upsets, the battles — from first round to championship game — will be fierce.

Here’s schedule and bracket information:


Schedule

When: Wednesday, March 6 — Sunday, March 10

Where: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, SC

How to view:

  • SEC Network: Round 1, Round 2 and Quarterfinals
  • ESPNU: Semifinals
  • ESPN2: Championship

Bracket

ROUND 1

No. 13 Florida Gators vs. No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels

Wednesday, March 6, 11 a.m. ET, SEC Network

No. 14 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. No. 11 Alabama Crimson Tide

Wednesday, March 6, 1 p.m. ET, SEC Network

ROUND 2

No. 13 Florida defeated No. 12 Ole Miss, 64-57, to advance to the second round, while No. 14 Vanderbilt would end its season in last place in the SEC following a 57-74 loss to No. 11 Alabama.

No. 9 LSU Tigers vs. No. 8 Tennessee Lady Volunteers

Thursday, March 7, 12 p.m. ET, SEC Network

No. 13 Florida Gators vs. No. 5 Missouri Tigers

Thursday, March 7, 2 p.m. ET, SEC Network

No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 7 Georgia Lady Bulldogs

Thursday, March 7, 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network

No. 11 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 6 Auburn Tigers

Thursday, March 7, 8 p.m. ET, SEC Network

QUARTERFINALS

Tennessee eked out a three-point win over LSU to advance to the quarterfinals, while Missouri got there with an 87-56 demolition of Florida. Arkansas eked out a 10-point win over Georgia, and Auburn squeezed past Alabama with a victory margin of one point.

No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. No. 8 Tennessee Lady Volunteers

Wednesday, March 6, 11 a.m. ET, SEC Network

No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 5 Missouri Tigers

Wednesday, March 6, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN3

No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks vs. No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks

Wednesday, March 6, 5 p.m. ET, SEC Network

No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies vs. No. 6 Auburn Tigers

Wednesday, March 6, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN News

SEMIFINALS

The No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks upset the No. 3. Texas A&M Aggies in a stunning 58-51 come-from-behind victory to advance to the championship game, where they will meet the No. Mississippi State Bulldogs, who toppled the No. 5 Missouri Tigers in semis, 71-56.

No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. No. 5 Missouri Tigers

Saturday, March 9, 5 p.m. ET, ESPNU

No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies

Saturday, March 9, 5 p.m. ET, ESPNU

CHAMPIONSHIP

In their fifth attempt at the SEC Tournament title, the Mississippi State Bulldogs got it done with a 101-70 blowout of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Winner of Bulldogs-Tigers vs. Winner of Razorbacks-Aggies

Sunday, March 10, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN2