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STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State’s 6-foot-7 Teaira McCowan deflected the LSU pass and grabbed the basketball. To everyone’s surprise, she didn’t look for a guard and instead took off dribbling to the delight of the home crowd.
A few seconds later, she finished the layup and broke into a broad grin: McCowan was putting on a show for senior night and the announced crowd of more than 8,500 at Humphrey Coliseum loved every minute of it.
McCowan had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Jordan Danberry added 18 points and No. 5 Mississippi State cruised to a 76-56 victory over LSU on Thursday night.
“The crowd doesn’t get any louder than when somebody gets a steal or somebody takes a charge,” McCowan said of her impromptu fast break. “We score buckets all day, and they clap, but when we do something like that, it gets pretty loud. I was excited.”
McCowan was spectacular on her senior night, shooting 10 of 12 from the field. She also added three assists, two blocks and two steals, showcasing her broad array of talents that have helped her ascend from a bench player to an All-American during her four years in Starkville.
Mississippi State (26-2, 14-1 Southeastern Conference) clinched at least a share of the regular-season title and can win the league outright with a victory at South Carolina on Sunday. The Bulldogs are 30-1 over the past two seasons in regular-season SEC games after finishing 16-0 in league play last year.
“These kids have done it again,” Schaefer said. “They’ve clinched at least a share. It’s so hard to do and I’m just really proud of them. I know what they’ve put into it and they work so hard every day.”
Jailin Cherry led LSU (16-11, 7-8) with 17 points. The Tigers have lost two straight.
LSU was hurt by 28 turnovers that led to 29 points for Mississippi State.
“Our inability to take care of the basketball allowed them to capitalize,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “You’ve got to value the basketball because offensively you become very sporadic. You never can get in a flow, because you get a few momentum plays going and then you turn it over. That’s a problem.”
Mississippi State struggled with foul trouble in the first half, but still was able to push out to a 36-26 halftime advantage. McCowan had 17 points and nine rebounds while playing all 20 minutes, providing a steady influence while others shuttled in and out of the game.
Mississippi State honored five players on senior night: McCowan, Danberry, Jazzmun Holmes, Anriel Howard and Zion Campbell. McCowan and Holmes have led the Bulldogs to a 125-17 record over the past four seasons. Campbell has played three seasons, Danberry two seasons and Howard one season.
LSU: The Tigers had some good moments in the first half, but slowly fell behind and could never mount a serious charge in the second half. LSU has a very important game for its NCAA Tournament hopes when it hosts Auburn on Sunday in the regular season finale.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs won their fourth straight to set up a clash against rival South Carolina on Sunday. McCowan played great and Mississippi State got some good production from the bench, which had to play more than usual because of the early foul trouble. The Bulldogs had a 54-16 advantage in points in the paint.
LSU: Host Auburn on Sunday.
Mississippi State: At South Carolina on Sunday.
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