STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Van Chancellor has won WNBA championships and Southeastern Conference titles. This could be the season the Hall of Fame coach makes his first Final Four appearance.
After No. 6 LSU clinched its second SEC title in three years Sunday with a 64-49 win over Mississippi State, the first-year Lady Tigers coach thinks he's got a team that might take him deep into the NCAA tournament yet again.
"This team is special," Chancellor said.
Sylvia Fowles finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds and set the SEC career mark with her 79th double-double to lead the Lady Tigers to their second 14-0 conference finish in four years.
LSU has won 16 of its last 17 games overall and 17 straight in the series with Mississippi State (16-13, 4-10).
LSU clinched the title in its first year under Chancellor, who graduated from Mississippi State and is now 39-1 against his alma mater. He also had an undefeated SEC season while winning an SEC title as Mississippi's coach.
"We've been really hammering on them to go undefeated," said Chancellor, who was hired after Pokey Chatman resigned last season amid a scandal over her reported relationship with a player. "I'm really proud of them for that. This is a tough league to go undefeated in."
LSU held Mississippi State without a point for the first 7:53 on the way to an 11-0 advantage and used another scoreless streak 7:26 late in the second half to put the game away.
Fowles had 12 points and seven rebounds by the time LSU took a 30-18 halftime lead. The 6-foot-6 senior, playing in her last regular season game, was the heart of a man-to-man defense that stymied the Bulldogs for the first 15 minutes and the last 11 minutes of the game.
Mississippi State missed its first 10 shots and had to launch attempts as the shot clock expired a half-dozen times in the first half. The Lady Bulldogs shot just 27.6 percent in the first half, missing 21 shots, and hit just 37 percent overall.
"We are an incredible defensive team," Chancellor said. "Today we did not show a lot of poise offensively, but dug in and made our game about defense."
Mississippi State started the second half hot, however, and tied the score 42-42 on Alexis Rack's 3-pointer after a 24-12 run out of halftime.
"As soon as we scored, we got rolling," Rack said.
But Fowles had a pair of layups to help end Mississippi State's run and LSU outscored the Lady Bulldogs 22-7 over the final 11:24.
Rack and Donnisha Tate led Mississippi State with 11 points apiece. It was the fourth loss in the last five games for the Lady Bulldogs.
Quianna Chaney had 18 points for LSU and Erica White added 10. But it was Fowles who was the sure thing, taking lob after lob on the block.
With her 79th double-double she broke the SEC's career mark set by Georgia's Janet Harris and Chancellor knows Fowles has her heart set on the league's career rebounding mark. She moved past LSU's Julie Gross (1,466 rebounds) into second place with 1,474 and is 51 shy of Valerie Still's 1,525, set for Kentucky from 1980-83.
"So I'm dangling that little carrot out there," Chancellor said. "I've about dangled all the carrots I can dangle."