In a convincing 76-45 victory over rival Ole Miss, Mississippi State lived up to expectations yet again, but not their own. The Bulldogs have set the bar a bit higher for themselves, they know it takes more than last night’s performance. By judging the score alone, one has every reason to believe a win of this magnitude over an arch rival ends in celebration. However, being a bit too relaxed on both ends of the floor usually results in an issue to address for a team, but could be thought of as a loss for Mississippi State, as the Bulldogs have clearly sent a strong message to themselves.
Led by junior center Teaira McCowan’s 25 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks, Mississippi State jumped out of the gates. McCowan was in her own stratosphere all game, as she went 12-13, a single game field goal efficiency record. Imposing her will on the opposition, she singlehandedly ruled the paint. Aside from the continuous double doubles, the blocks are flat out scary.
It is safe to say McCowan has elevated her game, and to a point which she has asserted herself into a potential superstar. Through blocks making their way into the stands, McCowan had something to say last night, providing the Bulldogs with a huge spark. Though without an assist, she should be more comfortable finding open shooters going forward, as they have proven to be snipers thus far.
Senior guard Blair Schaefer’s shot was falling from start to finish, as her 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists played a major role. However, fellow senior guard Victoria Vivians was in trouble early with two quick fouls, but wasted no time in the second half, putting forth 15 points, 8 rebounds, and an assist. Furthermore, Schaefer and Vivians are more than formidable when on the floor together, most notably with McCowan drawing more attention in the middle.
However, turnovers continue to plague the Bulldogs, ultimately resulting in a laid-back style of play when nursing a comfortable lead. McCowan, Vivians, as well as senior guard Roshunda Johnson, a defensive specialist with four steals on the night, combined for nine turnovers, all of whom were starters. Sure to improve throughout SEC play, the turnovers will decrease, but apparently that mindset is too carefree for this Mississippi State team.
Though lost in the fray, a gem shined bright last night, as the potential of junior guard Jazzmun Holmes is through the roof. With 4 points, a rebound, 3 assists, and a steal, it was not the stat line that spoke for her bright future. Sure to earn more minutes, the backup guard possesses the vision of a true facilitator, learning from the best in Vivians and Morgan William. Last night Holmes proved her willingness to orchestrate the Bulldogs’ second unit, an element needed from Mississippi State’s young bench of sheer raw talent.
Overall, the Bulldogs still look the part of a top five team, ranked fourth in the nation. Though experienced and capable, there is still plenty to work on. While still undefeated, Mississippi State is still vulnerable, but the Bulldogs are well aware. Playing with a chip on their shoulder, this team is dangerous, but must keep a laser focus from start to finish.