No. 7 LSU Begins SEC Play vs. Missouri On Thursday At Home
BATON ROUGE – No. 7 LSU is set to begin SEC play on Thursday at 8 p.m. CT in the PMAC when it hosts Missouri on the SEC Network for the first game of the new year.
This will be Coach Kim Mulkey’s third season leading the Tigers into conference play. LSU has finished No. 2 in the SEC in each of the past two seasons and have a combined conference record of 28-4 in those years.
Thursday’s game will be televised on the SEC Network with Eric Frede and Christy Thomaskutty. Patrick Wright and Shaeeta Williams will call the action on the LSU Sports Radio Network, 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.
Fans can dress like Coach Mulkey to Thursday’s game and the top three outfits will be presented at halftime with an opportunity to win one of Coach Mulkey’s game worn jackets.
“I just don’t know that we are anywhere near being polished and I judge that on the defensive end of the floor,” Coach Mulkey said. “We can score a lot of points because you have that much talent. Where we’re not polished is on the defensive end of the floor and sacrificing our bodies taking charges and keeping people in front of you, getting back in transition defense. That’s when I really will get super excited about how good we can be.”
The Tigers enter their conference slate with a 13-1 record, having won their past 12 games after dropping the season opener against Colorado in Las Vegas. Angel Reese and Aneesah Morrow have solidified a dominant post presence for the Tigers as one of the nation’s top forward duos.
“We really have not had all of our pieces out there for all our games,” Coach Mulkey said. “Did we do what we needed to do? Yeah, we won. After the Colorado game, we took care of business. Some of the games were not pretty, but we did what we needed to do to win game.
“Now we flush (non-conference). It means nothing. It was an opportunity for a lot of people to get a lot of minutes because we had some games that had wide margins of victory, but now we’ll see if some of those players who got to play in those games will be able to produce for us in these SEC games.”
As the Tigers look to take a step up defensively, LSU leads the nation scoring 95.1 points per game and have had numerous players step in to big time scoring roles. LSU has six players who averaged scoring in double figures, including Reese, Morrow and Mikaylah Williams who all averaged above 15 points per game. One of those players is Sa’Myah Smith who the Tigers lost to a season-ending knee injury. In Smith’s absence, freshman Aalyah Del Rosario has stepped in nicely, showing her ability to score and rebound.
Hailey Van Lith has settled into her new role as a point guard and with all of LSU’s scoring threats she has not needed to be a top-scorer but is still averaging 12.1 points per game to go with a career-high 5.0 assists per game. Last-Tear Poa has also been a steady presence for the Tigers at point guard, starting in the four games Van Lith was out with plantar fasciitis. Over the past two games she has a 15-1 assist-turnover ratio.
Missouri is coming off a lengthy break, having last played before the Holiday on December 21 against Kansas City. Missouri has made 16 threes in two games this season against Southern Indiana and Indiana State as the Tigers excel at shooting the long ball. They rank No. 3 in the SEC with a 37.3 three-point percentage and No. 2 with 9.0 made threes per game.
Hayley Frank for Missouri ranks No. 7 in the SEC scoring 16.2 points per game and No. 13 with 7.4 rebounds per game. She makes just over 2 three pointers per game and shoots them at 38.6 percent.
The last time Missouri played in Baton Rouge it was an overtime thriller that LSU won, 87-85, during Coach Mulkey’s first season. Khayla Pointer lifted the Tigers to victory with the game-winning layup with 5.7 second remaining in overtime. LSU played at Missouri last season and won handily, 77-57.