It’s hard to miss Teaira McCowan, on the court or off.

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Standing at 6-7, she typically towers over her opponents and even some of her teammates. Her advantage on the court goes past her stature, though, earning her the 2018 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

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The senior center is fourth in the SEC in total blocks swatting away 65 this season and ranks 11th in the nation in defensive rebounds, with 296 this season. Twelve of them came in her dominating performance Friday night in Mississippi State’s overtime win over Louisville. McCowan finished the night setting a Women’s Final Four and NCAA record with 25 rebounds in the game and 92 for the tournament.

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“This one — what do you say about Tea?” Mississippi State head coach Vic Schaefer said. “Twenty-five and 21? She’s done it all year against the best teams in the country, the best coaches in the country. She did it all night on the biggest stage you can do it on.”

McCowan is the first player to win this award and will add it to her collection of honors for the season including being named to the AP All-American and all-SEC first teams.

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