No. 7 LSU To Host No. 9 Virginia Tech Thursday In ACC/SEC Challenge
BATON ROUGE — No. 7 LSU will welcome No. 9 to the PMAC on Thursday night at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN in a rematch of last season’s national semifinal.
The game will be featured nationally on ESPN with Dave O’Brien, Rebecca Lobo and Andraya Carter. Patrick Wright and Shaeeta Williams will be on the call on the LSU Sports Radio Network, 107.3 FM Baton Rouge.
The first 400 students will receive a “Kim’s Krewe” long-sleeved t-shirt and the halftime entertainment will be frisbee dogs.
Coach Kim Mulkey is in search of her 700th victory as a head coach, looking to be the quickest coach in men’s or women’s history to reach that mark. Thursday will be her 813th game on the sidelines as a head coach. UConn’s Geno Auriemma currently is the quickest on the women’s side; it took him 822 games. Adolph Rupp leads on the men’s side, reaching 700 in 836 games.
LSU and Virginia Tech met in March at the Final Four in Dallas. LSU entered the fourth quarter down nine points and Coach Mulkey told the team to treat the first two minutes of the fourth quarter like the game’s final two minutes. LSU came out on fire offensively and defensively, taking the lead on a steal and fast-break score by Flau’Jae Johnson with 5:44 left in the game, ultimately outscoring the Hokies by 16 in the final quarter to win the game and advance to the program’s first national championship.
The Hokies have their top two scorers from last season back in Elizabeth Kitley and Georgia Amoore. They are leading the Hokies once again this year with Kitley is averaging 24.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and Amoore averaging 17.0 points and 8.3 assists per game. Like LSU, Virginia Tech played at the Cayman Islands Classic, defeating Kansas and Tulane by a combined seven points. Kitley averaged 27.6 points, 12.0 rebound and 3.3 blocks on the island.
“Those two players are just so good,” Coach Mulkey said about Virginia Tech’s one-two punch. “Amoore and Kitley are just outstanding players. They’re leaders. You’ve got a big post presence that can face you up and Amoore, I don’t think there’s a shot she can’t make.”
Aneesah Morrow is coming off a monster week after two double-doubles in the Cayman Islands, helping her be named the Player of the Week by the SEC and nationally by the AP, ESPN and USBWA. She had 28 points and 10 rebounds against Niagara before going for 37 points and 16 rebounds in a three-point win over Virginia.
Hailey Van Lith is no stranger to squaring off against the Hokies, having played them four times while she was at Louisville. In those four games Van Lith averaged 19.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.0 assists.
Angel Reese will be back with the Tigers after missing the previous four games. She has three double-doubles this season in four games on the court, averaging 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Against Virginia Tech at the Final Four she finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
“Angel is back and we are happy,” Coach Mulkey said. “She is happy. She’s available to play Thursday”
The Tigers will be without Sa’Myah Smith for the remainder of the season after she suffered a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in her right knee last Friday in a game against Niagara. Smith had stayed in Baton Rouge throughout the summer, turning down an opportunity to play Team USA Basketball, to work on her game ahead of her sophomore season. She ends her season having averaged 11.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game with a total of 11 blocks. Her surgery will be at a later date and expected to get her year of eligibility back.
“She’ll be there cheering,” Coach Mulkey said of Smith. “She’ll be there with us the entire year and we’ll get this fixed.”