"I'm very proud of my team", Schaefer said. Interestingly enough, an unranked Tennessee unit handed a No. 3/2 Vic Schaefer squad its last league loss on February 26, 2017, an 82-64 decision in Starkville.
The Bulldogs (22-1, 10-0 Southeastern Conference) have won 26 consecutive games in regular-season conference play.
The Wildcats hit the road in this one for a matchup with a Mississippi State team that has struggled to find momentum, alternating wins and losses for the past six games.
The final score didn't indicate how tough this win was for the Bulldogs, who saw their lead dwindle to 47-44 midway through the third quarter. Bre'Amber Scott's 3-pointer with five seconds left in the quarter made if 61-49.
Air time for games on the Lady Vol Radio Network generally occurs 30 minutes prior to tip-off.
MSU opened the fourth going four of five from the floor while UT went cold, hitting just one of three in the opening two minutes. "Man, did they push".
Calipari wasn't happy with the way his team had played during games with early tipoffs this season, so at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, barely four hours before the noon tipoff, he brought his team to Humphrey Coliseum for a shootaround. Mississippi State led 25-17 after one quarter and 40-34 at halftime.
"I think he's the best player in the country, but not like he played today", Calipari said. "I was in attack mode and she was in attack mode".
The Tennessee Lady Vols scrapped to within three in the third quarter but couldn't overcome a No. 6 Mississippi State team that shot an impressive 52.2 percent on the day.
The senior missed two games (N.D., LSU) after injuring an ankle vs. Arkansas, and she carded her first double-figure scoring game since January 3 when she fired in 17 vs. Vanderbilt to get back on track.
That's how deadly Mississippi State can be; this went from a close game to a historic blowout in the final 12½ minutes. McCowan had her 18th double-double (57th of her career) against Alabama despite attempting only four field goals.
Although Quinndary Weatherspoon has become a household name in the SEC, he'll be tasked with the challenge of limiting Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson on the perimeter.
Tennessee struggled with Mississippi State's combination of size and speed. Coach Holly Warlick said her team was off Monday, practiced Tuesday and Wednesday and had Thursday off before returning to practice Friday.
"When you have a strong inside game and guards that are super quick, it's a big challenge", Warlick said. "They grind it out, they're competitors and I don't see any reason they can't compete for a championship".
Tennessee: The Lady Vols were on a roll coming into Starkville, winning three straight after starting SEC play with a 1-5 record.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have now lost 13 straight games to Kentucky dating to 2009. So far this season, the Bulldogs have lost just twice at home this season, to rival MS, but being able to split this two-game homestand with LSU and Kentucky will be vital to the Bulldogs' at-large hopes.
The Bulldogs were ranked in the top four nationally in the three previous meetings to this one.
Tennessee hosts Auburn on Thursday.