No. 7 Mississippi State rolls past Florida 90-42
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — For one game, at least, Mississippi State showed it could win without a major contribution from senior center and leading scorer Teaira McCowan.
Senior forward Anriel Howard scored 21 points and led four scorers in double figures, lifting No. 7 Mississippi State to a 90-42 win over Florida on Thursday night.
Sophomore guard Bre’amber Scott added 15 points off the bench for the Bulldogs (18-1, 6-0 SEC), who won their eighth straight game. Senior guard Jordan Danberry had 12 points and four assists, and freshman guard Xaria Wiggins added 11 points.
“Just really pleased with my team today,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “I thought our guard play was really good and set the tone early. I just felt like that’s where we really dictated tempo.”
Mississippi State dominated in all phases of the game, outscoring the Gators 37-6 in points off turnovers and 48-12 in points in the paint.
The 6-foot-7 McCowan was held to two points, well below her season average of 17.3 points, but contributed six rebounds and three blocked shots.
“It’s all about matchups and there were matchups on the floor we wanted to exploit,” Schaefer said. “It wasn’t anything that T wasn’t doing. I think we were getting out in transition a lot, we were attacking off the bounce a lot.”
Senior guard Funda Nakkasoglu led the Gators (5-14, 1-5 SEC) with 14 points. Florida turned the ball over 27 times and absorbed its most lopsided loss of the season.
“I attribute most of it to (Mississippi State),” Florida coach Cameron Newbauer said of the turnovers. “That’s Vic’s M-O. That’s their M-O, and they do a fantastic job of it.”
Howard scored 17 points in the first quarter, including a 5-foot floater in the lane off an in-bounds play at the buzzer that gave the Bulldogs a 27-9 lead.
“I just came out ready to play,” Howard said. “I know I haven’t been playing to the best of my ability lately so I wanted to turn the page.”
Johnson hit a jumper that cut Mississippi State’s lead to 38-22 in the second quarter. The Bulldogs then closed the half on a 16-0 run. Scott sank two 3-pointers during the outburst, including one at the second-quarter buzzer that made gave Mississippi State a 54-22 lead at halftime.
Florida junior guard Delicia Washington left the game in the fourth quarter after suffering a head injury. Washington left the court groggy, but under her own power. Newbauer said Washington is day-to-day.
“Any time there is any sort of activity toward head, your face, you want to be cautious with all types of things of that nature,” Newbauer said. “That’s why we kept her on the floor a little bit, it was great seeing her walk off.”
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs continued their dominance in SEC play. Mississippi State won its 22nd straight SEC regular-season game, dating to Feb. 26, 2017, when it lost to Tennessee.
Florida: The young Gators, who start three underclassmen, are still rebuilding under second-year coach Cameron Newbauer. The plan Newbauer set is to build around perimeter shooting, but the Gators went just 3 of 23 from 3-point range on Thursday night against the Bulldogs.
Florida: Host Arkansas on Sunday afternoon. The Gators, who dropped to 5-5 at home following the loss Thursday night, picked up their lone SEC win at home, beating Missouri 58-56 at the buzzer on Jan. 13.
Mississippi State: Hosts Ole Miss on Sunday afternoon. The Bulldogs have won nine straight in the series with their in-state rivals.