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Schaefer named semifinalist for Naismith Coach Of The Year

Schaefer earned a spot on the list after guiding Mississippi State to a school-record 28-0 overall record, 14-0 SEC mark and the program's first SEC regular-season title.

Posted: Feb. 21, 2018 8:18 PM
Updated: Feb. 21, 2018 8:18 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – A record-setting start to the season and an SEC regular-season championship have landed Mississippi State head coach Vic Schaefer semifinalist honors for the prestigious Werner Ladder Naismith Women's College Coach of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Wednesday morning.

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Schaefer earned a spot on the list after guiding Mississippi State to a school-record 28-0 overall record, 14-0 SEC mark and the program's first SEC regular-season title. His Bulldogs also became the first MSU women's sports program to hoist a conference regular-season crown.

One of two teams in Division I men's or women's basketball without a loss, Mississippi State's 28-game win streak to begin the year is a school record and the most wins in the country.

The Bulldogs also notched the most SEC wins in program history with their 14th in Sunday's title-clinching victory against No. 17 Texas A&M.

This year's Bulldogs have recorded nine wins against teams ranked in this week's Associated Press Top 25 Poll, the most in the country.

After last season's historic run, which landed Schaefer as one of the finalists for the award, this year's Bulldog squad has been even more impressive, rising up to No. 2 in all three of the NCAA Women's Basketball Committee's Top 16 reveals.

Combined with last year's program-record 34 wins, the Bulldogs have won 62 games the last two years, tied with UConn for most in the nation.

This year's Bulldog squad is one of three teams in the nation that ranks in the Top 10 in scoring offense and Top 20 in defense. State is putting the basketball in the net at an 83.5 clip that is sixth nationally, while holding foes to the 17th-fewest points in the country at 55.0 ppg.

MSU, which has kept its last nine SEC opponents to 55 or fewer points, has forced 20.3 turnovers per game and committed just 10.8 turnovers per game to rank second in the nation with a +9.4 turnover margin.

This season he has mentored Victoria Vivians and Teaira McCowan to the best seasons of their MSU careers. Vivians rates third in the SEC in scoring at 19.9 ppg and is one of two SEC players shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free-throw line.

McCowan combines with Vivians to form the SEC's top-scoring duo, as she averages a career-best 18.8 ppg while topping the league on the boards both for the season (13.1 rpg) and in SEC play (13.7 rpg). The nation's third-leading rebounder, McCowan also tops the country on the offensive glass pulling down 6.0 rpg.

His squad also boasts one of the best distributors in the country in Morgan William, who is dishing an SEC second-most 4.8 apg while ranking second in the country with a 4.3 assist/turnover ratio.

The success on the court has also translated to the stands, where MSU eclipsed 100,000 in season attendance for the first time (104,340). The Top 19 single-game crowds have come under Schaefer, including a Humphrey Coliseum-record 10,794 for State's win against No. 6 South Carolina.

Mississippi State welcomes a fourth-straight sell-out crowd Thursday as the Bulldogs close the regular-season home slate against Auburn at 7 p.m. With an attendance of 5,660, Mississippi State will reach 110,000 for the year and Schaefer will donate $10,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Starkville through Cadence Bank.

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