LSU’s game plan going into Sunday was to limit Teaira McCowan’s play around the rim.
If the Lady Tigers had any hope of upsetting No. 5 Mississippi State, it couldn’t let the 6-foot-7 center reach her comfort zone down low.
They were not successful.
McCowan doubled up on her claim as the only SEC player since at least 2000 to score 30 points and 20 rebounds in a single game when she burned LSU for 31 points and 20 rebounds on Sunday. She also recorded an assist, a block and a steal against LSU.
And just as LSU feared, with McCowan rolling, so, too, did Mississippi State.
LSU’s eight-game win streak snapped with an 83-70 loss on its home court.
“(McCowan) is a tough guard for us with starting Ayana Mitchell at 6-2,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “But she’s also a tough guard for anybody else and our freshmen post players and a lot of players in the league.
“There’s some areas that we’re going to have to lend some help when we see a player like McCowan — I hope we don’t see a player like McCowan again — but if we are to see a post player like that, shifting some things defensively to try to help.”
For a brief moment it looked as if the night may unfold differently.
LSU (10-4, 2-1 SEC) had one of its best starts to a game all year when it led 17-10 at the first media timeout with about four minutes to play in the first quarter.
At that time, McCowan was well contained by Mitchell, who was personally having one of her best starts of the season, as well.
But during the break, Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer told his four senior guards to take control of the game, to which they responded with a 12-0 run to close the half.
From there, the Lady Bulldogs (17-0, 3-0) looked like the undefeated powerhouse they have all year.
McCowan is only the fifth opposing player since Fargas took the reigns at LSU in 2011 to score 30 points and the first ever to grab 20 rebounds.
Despite McCowan’s performance, Fargas praised Mitchell after the game for playing as well as she has in her two years in Baton Rouge.
Mitchell tallied her second double-double this season with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“They saw the mismatch,” Mitchell said. “First half, they weren’t really looking for (McCowan) on offense. She was getting her points on put backs and rebounds. I’m only 6-2. I think they realized that and started feeding her. There’s only so much you can do with her.”
While Mississippi State was finding its rhythm, the Lady Tigers were losing all of theirs.
Following the first-quarter media timeout until the halftime buzzer, only one LSU field goal came out of the hands of someone other than Chloe Jackson.
Fortunately, at the time, Jackson was scorching hot from the field and could keep LSU competitive. She began the game shooting 9 of 9.
But her shot dried up in the second half, only hitting two more baskets all day.
Jackson received a little help late in the game from Raigyne Louis who scored 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Jackson finished with a team-high 25 points, all but six of which came in the first half. Louis chipped in 20 points and three assists.
“It wasn’t really anything they did,” Jackson said of her second half performance. “It just wasn’t falling.”