Mississippi State’s McCowan, Schaefer earn SEC awards

              Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan (15) grabs a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against South Carolina, Sunday, March 3, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan has been voted the Associated Press’ Southeastern Conference player of the year and Vic Schaefer is the SEC coach of the year.

The 16-member media panel made McCowan a unanimous first-team all-SEC selection. She was joined on the squad by Mississippi State teammate Anriel Howard. Other first-team all-SEC picks included Texas A&M’s Chennedy Carter, Missouri’s Sophie Cunningham and Georgia’s Caliya Robinson.

This marks the second straight season that Carter, Cunningham and McCowan have earned first-team AP all-SEC honors. Schaefer has been named coach of the year two straight times and three of the last five seasons.

Kentucky freshman Rhyne Howard was named the SEC newcomer of the year and also earned second-team all-SEC honors along with teammate Maci Morris. The second team also includes Tennessee’s Rennia Davis, Arkansas’ Chelsea Dungee and South Carolina’s Tyasha Harris.

Robinson and Harris were both second-team selections last year.

McCowan and Schaefer helped Mississippi State (27-2, 15-1) win the SEC regular-season title and earn the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament starting Wednesday at Greenville, South Carolina.

“Winning the Southeastern Conference championship, I think it’s the hardest thing to do in the country,” Schaefer said after the Bulldogs clinched the regular-season title outright Sunday with a 68-64 victory at South Carolina. “I’m awfully proud of this team.”

McCowan is Mississippi State’s first AP SEC player of the year since LaToya Thomas earned the honor in back-to-back seasons in 2002 and 2003.

The 6-foot-7 senior center ranks third among all Division I players in rebounding (13.4) and fourth in field-goal percentage (.654). McCowan also averages 17.3 points and is the SEC’s fifth-leading scorer.

McCowan was the lone SEC player included among 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy given annually to the nation’s top player. She owns Mississippi State records for career rebounds (1,404) and double-doubles (63).