JACKSON, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians was looking through the postgame box score when her eyes suddenly went wide. A few numbers had caught her eye.
”Dang, Teaira!” Vivians said.
Dang, indeed. Teaira McCowan had career-highs with both 31 points and 20 rebounds to lead No. 6 Mississippi State over Louisiana-Lafayette 94-37 at the Mississippi Coliseum.
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The 6-foot-7 McCowan has been a really good player on some great teams during her first two seasons with the program.
Now the Bulldogs need her to be one of the stars. She certainly looked the part against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
”She’ll go for spurts where she’s locked in and she’s impacting the game on both ends,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. ”When she does that and we run our offense through her and not to her, that’s when we really get good.”
She couldn’t be stopped on Wednesday, making 15 of 20 shots from the field and had four blocked shots and three steals. Vivians added 16 points. Chloe Bibby and Blair Schaefer both added 13 points.
McCowan said that good passes from her guards, along with constant encouragement from Vic Schaefer, have pushed her to a new level.
”Even when I think I’m doing as much as I can, he’s always on me to give more and more,” McCowan said. ”I’ve got to buy into it.”
Mississippi State (7-0) didn’t have much trouble in this one, jumping out to a 30-8 lead by the end of the first quarter and coasting the rest of the way. McCowan had 19 points and 12 rebounds by halftime, dominating the much smaller Ragin’ Cajuns.
Louisiana-Lafayette (2-5) was led by Skyler Goodwin, who scored 14 points. The Ragin’ Cajuns shot just 22 percent from the field.
”We’re not guarding, we’re just letting people score at will,” Louisiana-Lafayette coach Garry Brodhead said. ”I know they were bigger than us, but the consistency of what we do is important.”
Mississippi State had a 59-34 rebounding advantage.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs kept rolling through their non-conference schedule with an easy win on Wednesday. McCowan is averaging a double-double this season and had another huge game. Mississippi State should get a little more difficult test on Sunday when it hosts Oklahoma State.
Louisiana-Lafayette: The Ragin’ Cajuns have lost five of their past six. It was obvious from the start that they were overmatched, but continually leaving McCowan open for easy buckets certainly didn’t help their cause.
THIN IN THE POST
McCowan’s emergence as a star is even more important this season because Mississippi State isn’t very deep in the post.
Sophomore Ameshya Williams was expected to play a large role for the Bulldogs, but Vic Schaefer said she quit the team and left school after just one game. Freshman Chloe Bibby and sophomore Zion Campbell have had a bigger role since Williams left, but neither has much experience.
Mississippi State hosts Oklahoma State on Sunday.
Louisiana-Lafayette hosts McNeese State on Sunday.
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP .