March 3, 2010 2:03:00 PM
The Mississippi State women''s basketball team made history Tuesday.
Seniors Alexis Rack and Armelie Lumanu were named to the first and second All-SEC teams, respectively, while Lumanu was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Lumanu and classmate Chanel Mokango also were named to the All-SEC Defensive Team for the second consecutive season.
The All-SEC honors earned by Rack and Lumanu mark the first time since 2003, and just the fourth time overall, MSU has put two players on the All-SEC list in the same season.
Rack earned first-team honors for the second consecutive year. The Franklin, La., native is third in the league in scoring (17.7 points per game). She also leads the SEC in 3-point field goals made, rank fourth in assists, and fifth in steals.
Rack, an All-America candidate who won the Gillom Award (best player in the state of Mississippi) last season, has 1,674 points, which is three points shy of tying former MSU All-SEC performer Jennifer Fambrough for third on the school''s career scoring list.
With 325 career 3-pointers, Rack is second all-time in SEC history and is just 12 shy of tying LSU''s Cornelia Gayden''s 337 career threes.
Lumanu, from Kinshasa, Congo, became the first MSU player to win the conference Defensive Player of the Year honor in just the seventh year the award has been given. Lumanu is second in the SEC in steals (2.5). She also leads MSU and is eighth in the league in rebounding (7.2), and is second on the team in scoring (12.1 ppg.) and seventh in the league in assists (4.1).
Lumanu and Mokango were two of five players selected to the All-SEC Defensive Team. Both earned the honor for the second consecutive season. Mokango, who is second in the league in blocked shots (67), is MSU''s career leader in blocks (164) in two seasons. Mokango, who averages 10.7 ppg., is 10th in the league in rebounding (7.0).
Lumanu and Mokango helped MSU rank first in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense, second in steals, and third in turnover margin.
University of Mississippi senior Bianca Thomas also was named first team All-SEC.
The All-America candidate was picked to the first team for the second consecutive season as voted on by the league''s coaches.
She joins former Ole Miss greats Cynthia Autry, Yolanda Moore, Kimsey O''Neal, and assistant coach Armintie Price as the only players in school history to make the All-SEC first team twice.
Thomas leads the SEC and is ninth in the nation in scoring (21.1 ppg.). She has led the conference in scoring since the opening day of the season and is bidding to become just the third player in school history to average more than 20 points per game for a season.
Dunlap, Kentucky take top honors
Matthew Mitchell wasn''t peeved. He wasn''t ticked, either.
Some coaches would have ranted and raved if one of their best players wasn''t selected for a preseason all-league team.
Instead of being agitated, Mitchell was "comforted" by the fact that Victoria Dunlap wasn''t picked as one of the 10 players named to the Southeastern Conference''s preseason team.
"I think she is the kind of player we can build around to have some success in the league," Mitchell said in October at SEC Media Day. "What we have to do is make sure we''re staying focused and not worrying about anything that is external. How people perceive us is not important. It is how we perceive ourselves."
Mitchell is smiling today because Dunlap was named Tuesday the SEC Player of the Year.
The 6-foot-1 junior forward helped Kentucky (23-6, 11-5 SEC) finish second in the SEC after being picked in the preseason to finish 11th.
Individually, Dunlap finished in the top 10 in seven categories, including scoring (fifth, 17.2 points per game), rebounding (third, 8.4), steals (first, 3.1), and blocked shots (1.9). She is the only player in the league to finish in the top five of those four categories.
Dunlap also was named to the SEC''s All-Defensive team.
"She has had an outstanding year," Mitchell said "The thing that makes her so valuable to us is her versatility on defense. She is one of the few players who can guard just about every position on the court and do it effectively. ... When your best player is your best defender it helps your team with its identity and motivates others to play extremely hard on the other end."
The awards capped an impressive haul for Kentucky. Mitchell was named SEC Coach of the Year, while A''dia Mathies was named SEC Freshman of the Year. Mathies also was named Second Team All-SEC and to the league''s All-Freshman team.
Kentucky''s showing is just the second time in SEC history one team has won all three top honors. Tennessee''s Pat Summitt (coach), Chamique Holdsclaw (player), and Tamika Catchings (freshman) accomplished the feat in 1998 en route to the program''s sixth NCAA title.
Dunlap, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark against Mississippi State earlier this season, has improved her scoring average in each of her three seasons at Kentucky. She averaged 7.3 points as a freshman and 12.8 last season when the Wildcats finished 16-16 (5-9 in SEC) and advance to the Women''s National Invitation Tournament.
This season, Kentucky figures to have locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament, which is a position Mitchell said his team wouldn''t be in without Dunlap.
"She really has been able to transform her game from a defender and rebounder and an athlete into a person who can score and do it at a high level and take over a game offensively," Mitchell said.
Dunlap is the first player in the program''s history to earn Player of the Year honors, and the ninth to be named to the first team. Stacey Reed (1994) was the last player from Kentucky to be named to the first team.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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