By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Vic Schaefer fooled nearly all of the 5,572 in attendance at Mississippi State’s first-round NCAA Tournament game on Friday – including Troy head coach Chanda Rigby.
Schaefer introduced four new starters to his lineup and his team jumped out to an 11-2 lead over the Trojans. Usual starters Dominique Dillingham, Breanna Richardson, Victoria Vivians and Chinwe Okorie all came off the bench.
“I never had any second thought about doing it,” Vic Schaefer said. “There’s just some things that have to be done. It’s bigger than the game so it never crossed my mind other than what happened today.”
Ketara Chapel, Teaira McCowan, Blair Schaefer and Roshunda Johnson replaced the usual starters, joined Morgan William in the lineup and combined for 53 points, 24 rebounds, 10 assists, four blocks and four steals.
“We mix up a lot of combinations in practice so when the opportunity presents itself in a game it’s nothing new for us,” Blair Schaefer said. “I feel like we have a lot of combinations on our team that work.”
Asked which lineup he would use in Sunday’s second-round game against DePaul, the veteran head coach was not tipping his hand.
“We’ll just give them something to think about,” he said.
Prior to Friday, Vivians had started all 103 games during her MSU career.
Vivians, a junior guard, did not enter the Troy game until the 8:25 mark of the second quarter but immediately made an impact.
The first team All-SEC selection buried a 3-pointer one second later and finished the day with 13 points, six rebounds and a steal in 16 minutes.
“I just don’t worry about her as much as everybody else seems to,” Vic Schaefer said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in that young lady. I was real pleased with her numbers today and with how she played.”
Plenty of records fell during Mississippi State’s lopsided win over Troy. The 110 points scored by the Bulldogs were the most ever in NCAA Tournament play as was the 41-point margin of victory.
The 56 first-half points and 28 turnovers forced were also school benchmarks in the Big Dance.
MSU has now won 30 games for the first time in program history and the victory was Vic Schaefer’s 200th as a head coach.
“All I’ve heard for two weeks is how bad an offensive coach I am and how we only scored 49 points against South Carolina and I’ve set the game back 50 years. I’ve got a little pride, too, and if you give me a week and a half to figure it out, I’ve got a couple of degrees, so that’s what you do.” – MSU coach Vic Schaefer