February 9, 2018 10:43:00 AM
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer was concerned about playing at Florida.
No. 2 MSU was
coming off an emotional rematch of last year's national title game and has Kentucky, a team it hasn't beaten since 2009, up next.
Schaefer was worried his players might get caught reveling in the past or looking to the future. It turned out to be typical coaching anxiety.
Roshunda Johnson scored 22 points, Teaira McCowan notched her 17th double-double of the season and MSU stayed undefeated with a 98-50 victory at Florida on Thursday night.
"Here we are 25-0 and it's hard," Schaefer said. "It's hard to get up every night. And in our league, if you don't get up and get ready to play. ... Very concerned coming in here."
"This team is really good about staying in the moment," Schaefer added.
MSU (25-0, 11-0 Southeastern Conference) showed that by never trailing after hitting three 3-pointers to open the game and doubling up Florida on the scoreboard by the end of the third quarter.
Victoria Vivians added 17 points for MSU, and Morgan William added 15. Jordan Danberry had a career-high 11 points.
McCowan had 10 points and 11 rebounds, reaching double figures in both categories for the 13th time in the last 17 games.
"They just wear you down with the pressure, they wear you down physically, the style of play with how exhausting they make you play," Florida coach Cam Newbauer said. "Then all of a sudden you have to go box them out with their size and their athleticism. It's just 40 minutes of non-stop, here-we-come basketball. It's grueling."
It led to another dominating performance by the Bulldogs, who were coming off a 14-point victory against No. 7 South Carolina. MSU lost the title game and looks more than capable of getting another shot with a veteran team. Schaefer has a stacked starting lineup that can play with and beat anyone in the country -- from inside or out.
MSU hit 10 of 20 3-pointers against Florida and scored 52 points in the paint.
"That's the answer for us," Schaefer said. "That's the secret to our success. If we can do that, we've got a chance to win every night."
The Gators (10-14, 2-9) kept it close early, but faded late in the second quarter. MSUoverwhelmed Florida with a 34-5 run that turned a three-point game into a laugher.
The Bulldogs did whatever they wanted during the spurt, getting easy baskets off turnovers and finding wide-open 3-pointers.
Funda Nakkasoglu led the Gators with 17 points, but she also had six of the team's 23 turnovers. MSU scored 37 points off those miscues.
"I feel like our offense came from our defense," Johnson said.
MSU will play host to Kentucky at 1 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU).
NOTE: Vivians was named one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, the organization announced Thursday. The award recognizes a NCAA Division I senior who excels in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition. Voting for the winner has started. The fan vote makes up one third of the final tally. Fans can vote once daily through March 19 at www.seniorclassaward.com/vote.
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