Mississippi State is able to use a four-guard lineup because its fifth player — 6-foot-7 center Teaira McCowan — is such a force in the middle.

The junior averages a double-double — 18.1 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. It was no coincidence that the Bulldogs’ only loss came after McCowan got in early foul trouble against South Carolina in the SEC tournament final and sat most of the first half.

“She impacts the game at both ends of the floor,” MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. “It’s not just the shots that she blocks. It’s the ones she alters. It’s the times that you think you’re going to dribble-penetrate and you look up and there’s 6-7 standing in the lane and you go, ‘You know what, I think I’ll turn around here and get back out in the perimeter.’ ”

— Bill Rabinowitz