GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Two of the Southeastern Conference's high-powered offenses square off at 1 p.m. CT Sunday as the LSU women's basketball team faces the Florida Gators in its first conference road test at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
The game will be televised live by the SEC Network with Cara Capuano and former Auburn coach Nell Fortner handling the call. Cox Communications subscribers can watch the contest on WBXH channel 16 in Baton Rouge and WUPL in New Orleans. The contest will also be streamed online at ESPN3.com and on the Watch ESPN application for tablets and IPads.
The Lady Tigers (10-4, 1-0 SEC) withstood a late run by Ole Miss to win its SEC opener, 84-79, on Thursday night in Baton Rouge. Florida, meanwhile, faced a tough task in opening league play at defending SEC champion Kentucky. The Gators (11-4, 0-1) produced three double-figure scorers and turned in a hard-fought game despite losing 76-69.
"Florida features a lot of talented players and they go nine deep," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "(Jennifer) George definitely leads their attack, and we have to make sure we match her intensity. She's a dominant player for them around the block and on the glass. Transition defense is also going to be key. We can't allow them to get second and third opportunities, and we have to be much better in defending the three-ball."
Sunday's contest features the SEC's third and fourth leading offensives, respectively. Florida is averaging 74.8 points per game. LSU is putting up 75.5 points per contest, including seven straight games of 70 or more points - a first for the program since January 2004. The Lady Tigers' scoring offense is their most prolific since putting up 76.3 points per game for the 2002-03 season.
Theresa Plaisance continues to lead LSU in scoring with 18.1 points per contest, which ranks second overall in the SEC. She's up to sixth in the nation in blocks per game with 3.3. Freshman Danielle Ballard has been spectacular on both ends of the floor, leading all SEC freshmen in scoring with 15.4 points per contest and steals with 3.2. Ballard's current scoring average is the highest by an LSU freshman in 20 years since Cornelia Gayden's 19.1 mark during the 1991-92 campaign.
"Danielle has been someone who has sparked us in many different ways, whether it is her craftiness of scoring or collecting steals," said Caldwell. "It brings a lot of energy to your team when you have your point guard rebounding the basketball, not only on the defensive end but on the offensive end as well. She's inspired others with her energy plays."
Defensively, disrupting Florida's Jennifer George will be a crucial key to the game. George is posting 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest, which ranks third in the conference. She racked up 14 points, 11 rebounds and three steals on Thursday at Kentucky. The Gators as a team fired in 25-of-30 free throws, including a perfect 11-of-11 from Jaterra Bonds.
LSU leads the all-time series with Florida, 24-11, and the Lady Tigers have fared well in the O'Connell Center with an 11-6 mark. However, the Gators tallied two convincing wins last season, a 62-58 victory in Gainesville and later a 73-64 margin in Baton Rouge.