jessika carter arizona state 19

Sophomore Jessika Carter is one of three players 6-foot-5 or taller on Mississippi State’s roster. She and others have big shoes to fill.

STARKVILLE No. 10 Mississippi State is missing one of the most dominant forces in women’s college basketball with the graduation of Teaira McCowan.

The 6-foot-7 All-American center left behind some big shoes for the Bulldogs to fill in the post. However, instead of relying on one player to replace McCowan’s production, MSU will split those duties between three players – Jessika Carter, Yemiyah Morris and Promise Taylor.

“You have to consider doing that by committee,” said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. “That’s 18 (points) and 14 (rebounds) a night and we got spoiled with that for two-straight years. I can’t remember a more dominant five player in the college game in a long time with what (McCowan) brought from an offensive and defensive standpoint.”

The Bulldogs open their season Saturday at home against Southern Miss. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.

Carter, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, served as McCowan’s back-up last season averaging 3.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game. Carter scored in double figures three times and recorded 10 rebounds once during her freshman season but realized she needed to elevate her game during the offseason.

“It was a wakeup call for me that I needed to get stronger because I’m not just taller that everyone because now there’s people that are my height,” Carter said.

Carter started at center in and scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds MSU’s exhibition win on Monday but Schaefer would love to utilize her talents at power forward at times this year.

“Jessika’s really developed her game and has that 15-footer now that you’ve got to come get her,” Schaefer said. “If you don’t come get her, good luck because she’s going to knock it down. She’s got the green light with me on all those.”

Morris, at 6-foot-6, and Taylor, at 6-foot-5, are both newcomers to the low post mix for the Bulldogs. Morris was signed out of junior college in Arizona while Taylor sat out last season after transferring from Ole Miss where she was a Freshman All-SEC selection in 2017-18, scoring 8.3 points and grabbing six boards per game.

“I need these kids – especially Yemiyah and Promise – to understand that their size and length can really be a tremendous advantage for us defensively,” Schaefer said.

Taylor underwent reconstructive surgery on her ankle and has been rehabbing herself into better shape and is finally able to start contributing.

“She’s really different now and is making it through a full practice,” Schaefer said. “She is better condition and is able to make it down the floor more than two times without having to come out.”

Schaefer experimented some with a larger lineup in Monday’s exhibition, with Morris and Taylor alternating at center, Carter at power forward and 6-foot-2 freshman Rickea Jackson on the wing.

“I don’t think we drop off and it gives us a chance to maybe go get some of our misses,” Schaefer said. “It’s certainly a mismatch in size, especially when you throw Rickea in at the three. We can run some triple posts and do some different things with that big lineup in there.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

Twitter: @loganlowery

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