Tuesday, January 12, 2016
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State's usual leading scorer Victoria Vivians had 11 points in the first quarter on Sunday and then essentially vanished, scoring just two points the rest of the game.
That's no problem for these Bulldogs, who proved they're far from a one-person show.
Ketara Chapel scored a career-high 19 points, Dominique Dillingham added 16 and No. 7 Mississippi State pulled away to beat Arkansas 80-55.
"It shows we have a lot of depth," Chapel said. "Different people step on different nights, so we don't have to always count on Victoria even though she's a great player."
Mississippi State (16-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) has won 11 games in a row.
The Bulldogs never trailed, scoring their first three points when Vivians pulled up from 25 feet away and nailed a deep jumper. The Razorbacks stayed close throughout the first quarter, but the Bulldogs pulled away for a 41-31 halftime lead.
Vivians scored 13 points and Chinwe Okorie added 12.
Arkansas (6-10, 1-2) briefly cut the lead to 48-40 in the third quarter, but Mississippi State responded with eight straight points to end the threat. The Razorbacks were led by Jessica Jackson, who scored 20 points on 9 of 18 shooting from the field.
Vivians — the Bulldogs' leading scorer at 18.3 points per game — we cold after hitting three 3-pointers in the first five minutes. Her teammates picked up the slack with 22 points in the second quarter, including six from Dillingham.
Arkansas coach Jimmy Dykes said he wasn't surprised Mississippi State's offense kept rolling even with Vivians struggling.
"That's more than just a one-man team," Dykes said.
Chapel came into the game averaging just 5.9 points and usually isn't counted on as a consistent scoring threat. But when Vivians struggled she added some much-needed offense, making 7 of 8 shots from the field and all five of her free throws.
"That's a good night for anybody," Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said.
Late he added: "When you've got (Chapel) getting 19 and Dominique getting 16, it really takes some pressure off Victoria and others."
Mississippi State once again relied on outstanding defense to put distance between itself and the opponent. The Razorbacks managed just 12 points in the third quarter as the Bulldogs pushed their lead to 58-43.
Mississippi State came into the game giving up just 52.1 points per game, which ranks 10th nationally.
Arkansas has had a difficult stretch to start SEC play, with three straight games against No. 2 South Carolina, No. 13 Texas A&M and the 7th-ranked Bulldogs. The Razorbacks pulled off an upset win over the Aggies, but suffered lopsided losses to the Gamecocks and Mississippi State.
"We never accept losing," Dykes said. "I don't care how young we are. But I do like that we continue to fight. We got a lot of good things out of our team today."
Arkansas: Jackson has scored at least 10 points in 13 of 15 games this season. She came into the game with 1,197 career points, which ranks fifth among active SEC plays. ... Arkansas' difficult stretch of games in the SEC isn't over — the Razorbacks face nationally-ranked foes Tennessee and Missouri next week.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs' No. 7 ranking is the highest in school history. ... Vivians has scored in double figures in 16 straight games. ... Dillingham added six rebounds and five assists.
No. 20 Missouri at No. 7 Mississippi State
No. 12 Tennessee at Arkansas