BATON ROUGE – The No. 19 LSU women’s basketball team opens the home stretch and the final five games of the regular season Sunday as SEC frontrunner and No. 5 South Carolina visits the Maravich Center. It marks the third Top 5 opponent the Lady Tigers will face this season and the team’s first Sunday home game in over a month.
Sunday’s tip time is slated for 2:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN2 along with http://www.watchespn.com/. The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, will have the radio call.
LSU (18-6, 7-4 SEC) will wear pink jerseys for the program’s Play4Kay Game in support of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund which partners with the V Foundation and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The first 2,000 fans will receive a LSU pink rally towel. Tickets are on-sale at http://www.lsutix.net/ starting as low as $2.
LSU has posted a 24-5 mark under Nikki Caldwell during the last two seasons at the Maravich Center. The Lady Tigers have won 10 of its 11 games in 2013-14. The 10 wins for LSU have come by a combined 181 points for an average of 18.1 points per game.
Both teams are coming off a midweek bye. Last time out, the Lady Tigers dropped a 72-67 decision at Texas A&M whereas South Carolina (22-2, 10-1 SEC) collected a 67-49 victory over Arkansas.
“It (having the midweek bye) helped in the sense that we were able to have that break away from basketball and gave the players an extra day off,” Caldwell said. “We felt as though playing a team like South Carolina, you’re going to need your legs. They are a very explosive team in the transition, they’re tough on the boards and they do a nice job of being patient offensively.”
Theresa Plaisance, who was named one of 30 midseason candidates for the 2014 Naismith Trophy earlier this week, has produced a team-leading 14.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. She has registered 14 straight games in double figures and accounted for 103 of her 182 points in SEC action during the second half.
Raigyne Moncrief has regained her scoring rhythm and her 11.6 points per game are third among SEC freshmen. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week has ripped of 10-plus points in four consecutive games and five of her last six outings. Defensively, Moncrief has registered 2.2 steals per game which are fifth on the SEC leaderboard.
Jeanne Kenney continues to be one of the SEC’s top three-point shooters and has turned in 10.9 points coupled with 3.6 assists per game. She has canned 40.8 of her triples, second in the SEC. Kenney also has been solid at the free throw line. Her 90.9 percent effort also is second in the SEC and ranks 11th nationally.
Danielle Ballard has provided 9.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. She has garnered three 20-plus scoring performances in SEC play this season, most recently 22 points at Texas A&M. On SEC Sundays, Ballard has upped her scoring average to 14.2 points per game.
LSU holds a 22-5 series advantage and has won 12 of the 13 meetings over the Gamecocks in Baton Rouge. The two teams have split the last four meetings during the Caldwell era and held serve on their home courts. LSU won a 54-51 overtime decision in 2010-11 after Taylor Turnbow’s jumper with three seconds left to force the extra session.
South Carolina has vaulted into the AP Top 5 this week for the first time since Jan. 10, 1982. Tiffany Mitchell is one of two SEC players to rank among the league’s Top 15 in scoring (15.1 PPG), steals (2.3 SPG) and assists (3.5 APG). She’s up for the Naismith and Wade Trophy awards. The Gamecocks also have Aleigsa Welch (13.7 PPG) and Alaina Coates (12.0 PPG) averaging in double figures. Coates and Welch are ranked inside the SEC’s Top 10 in rebounding.
“When you play team like South Carolina who has size, quickness and a balanced attack, we’re going to have to play disciplined in defending the paint,” Caldwell said. “You’re not going to be able to take everything away from a team like South Carolina because they’re just that good. We have to guard the basketball, and we have to keep people in front of us. We’ve been plagued with our inability to control the paint at times. If we can play more like we’re supporting each other in our defensive scheme, I do think that will give us a better chance on Sunday. You want to play a 40-minute game, but you want them to play it one possession at a time and not leave those empty possessions out there.”
For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/womensbasketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuwbkb along with @lsuwbkb and @NikkiCaldwell on Twitter.