LSU Begins SEC Tournament Friday Against Kentucky
NASHVILLE – LSU (25-4, 13-3 SEC) will take the floor of Bridgestone Arena as the No. 2 Seed in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament Friday at 6 p.m. CT on the SEC Network against No. 7 Kentucky.
The Tigers enter the SEC Seed with their highest seeding since earning the No. 1 seed in 2008. This is also the first time since that same season 14 years ago that LSU won 25 games in the regular season.
After LSU won nine games last season, Kim Mulkey has led LSU to the greatest one season turnaround by a first-year head coach in SEC history. After the Tigers were picked to finish eighth in the SEC during the preseason, LSU finished second in one of the deepest conferences in the country. LSU is looking to win its third SEC Tournament Championship and first since 2003.
After the NCAA projected LSU as a No. 2 seed (the No. 7 overall seed) earlier this week it seems likely that LSU will secure one of the NCAA Tournament’s Top-16 seeds, allowing them to host first and second round games in the PMAC no matter what happens this week in Nashville.
“Through the years it’s been proven that your seeding is pretty much set in stone for the postseason,” LSU Coach Kim Mulkey said. “Even if you lose in the first game, how would that knock you out of what you’ve done for a regular season?”
Kentucky defeated Mississippi State Thursday night, 83-67, to set up LSU’s first game of the SEC Tournament after the Tigers earned the double-bye.
Khayla Pointer was selected All-SEC First Team earlier this week after averaging 18.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.1 rebounds per game throughout the regular season. She has two triple-doubles this season and has scored 20+ points in 14 games. She also became the first player in LSU men’s or women’s history to reach 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in a career.
In her first season at LSU, Alexis Morris electrified LSU’s offense and became a potent guard combo with Pointer. Morris was named All-SEC Second Team this week after scoring 15.8 points per game and becoming a go-to player down the stretch in games. During LSU’s Feb. 24 game against Alabama, Morris suffered a sprained MCL. LSU plans to rest Morris throughout this week at the SEC Tournament, allowing her to rehab to be ready for March Madness in a couple of weeks.
With Morris absent during LSU’s final regular season game at Tennessee, multiple Tigers stepped up scoring the ball. Autumn Newby, who has been a gritty rebounder all season as an undersized post player, got LSU’s momentum rolling early in Knoxville with 10 first quarter points. Ryann Payne who started in place of Morris had 7 points and she also dished out 5 assists, getting her teammates involved too.
LSU has already faced and defeated Kentucky. The teams matched up in Baton Rouge on Jan. 30 and LSU’s 78-69 win kicked off its current eight-game winning streak. The Tigers were coming off back-to-back road losses and needed a victory. Pointer led LSU with 28 points. Morris had 20 and Faustine Aifuwa had 14. The Wildcats were playing shorthanded though with multiple players out for various reasons.
After Thursday’s win over Mississippi State, Kentucky has reeled off 8 wins in a row and appear to be playing their best basketball. Rhyne Howard is projected as one of the top picks in the upcoming WNBA Draft and has pieces around her such as Jada Walker and Dre’una Edwards who could make Kentucky a team to look out for.