BATON ROUGE, La. --- The LSU women’s basketball team hosts the Florida Gators on Thursday in its SEC home opener, which is also slated as the Gold Game. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., at the Maravich Center.
As a special promotion, fans wearing gold will receive a general admission ticket to the game for just $2. In addition, the first 1,000 fans will receive a gold t-shirt at the entrance.
The LSU Sports Radio Network will carry the game on its flagship station Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. The radio broadcast featuring Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, also will be available for free at www.LSUsports.net/live. In addition, the game will be carried online only through the digital platform of SEC Network Plus, and is available on www.WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.
The Lady Tigers are hunting their first SEC victory after falling to Mississippi State, ranked No. 4 nationally this week, in Starkville on Sunday, 74-48. LSU is 11-3 on the year and had won seven-straight games before the defeat in the SEC opener. The Gators are 9-5 overall; 0-1 in the SEC, after losing their league opener to Auburn, 82-75, in Gainesville on Sunday.
“The intensity has definitely stepped up with us going into SEC play,” said LSU head coach Nikki Fargas. “We have to be very aware that the SEC is like a new season for us and it’s going to be a very grueling and challenging season because it is going to be a battle every night.”
LSU holds a 26-14 series advantage over Florida and has won 13 of the 18 games played at the PMAC. The Gators won both meetings against the Lady Tigers last season, including the matchup in the PMAC, which UF dominated, 82-56.
“We have a very young team and many of our players have never played in an SEC game and we need to get this home win under our belt,” said Fargas. “We went out on the road last weekend and now we are at home, and like we say, we need to take care of home. Tomorrow will be a good test for us.”
Junior guard Raigyne Moncrief leads the Lady Tigers in scoring with 14.6 points per game, and is No. 2 in the SEC in steals with 41. She also averages 5.1 rebounds a game and has scored in double figures in the last 12-straight contests. Sophomore guard Chloe Jackson is also averaging in double figures scoring with 12.1 points per contest, and has scored 10-plus points in the last five consecutive games. Senior forward Alexis Hyder is the team leader in rebounds with 5.6 a game, followed by Jackson, who averages 5.4 boards a meeting.
Ronni Williams and Haley Lorenzen are UF’s biggest scoring threats, averaging 18.4 and 12.6 points per game, respectively. Williams is a 60-percent (110-182) shooter from the field and a 71-percent (37-52) shooter from the free-throw line, and also leads the Gators with an average of 8.2 rebounds a game.
“Florida is a well-coached team and they have one of the best players in the conference in Ronni Williams,” Fargas explained. “She plays everywhere on the floor and is a very versatile player that we are going to have to key in on. Florida shoots the ball well and we need to eliminate those easy baskets as well as force them to turn the ball over.”
Statistically, the Gators are outrebounding their opponents this season by a 6.9 rebound margin, while LSU holds a 1.5 rebounding margin over its opponents through 14 games. LSU does only average 14.4 turnovers a game to Florida’s average of 20.1, and LSU is forcing an average of 22.3 turnovers to UF’s 19.7 turnovers forced per game.
Following the Florida matchup, LSU travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to meet the Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday at 2 p.m., before hosting its next three-straight SEC contests against Missouri (Jan. 12), #5 South Carolina (Jan. 15) and #24 Kentucky (Jan. 19). There are some great giveaways coming up including fanny packs for the Missouri game, floppy hats for the South Carolina meeting and Seimone Augustus bobbleheads for the Kentucky matchup, which is also designated as LSU’s “We Back Pat” game.
Fans attending home games at the PMAC are reminded of LSU’s “Geaux Clear” policy that is in effect at all athletic venues. The policy allows for only clear tote bags smaller than 12” x 6” x 12” or one-gallon plastic freezer bags to be permitted in the PMAC and other venues on the LSU campus this year. Bags must be clear and transparent and cannot be tinted, textured or patterned. For full details on the policy, please visit www.LSUSports.net/GeauxClear.
NOTES & TRENDS
• LSU holds the 26-14 series advantage over Florida, dating back to the 1977-78 season. Florida has won five of the last seven meetings, including both the home and away contests last season.
• The Lady Tigers have won 13 of the 18 meetings played at the PMAC. LSU’s longest streak of wins in the PMAC was eight from the 1997-98 season to the 2010-11 season. UF snapped that streak with a win during the 2011-12 campaign. With the Gators picking up the 82-56 victory last year in Baton Rouge, LSU’s last win in the PMAC was an 82-68 decision on Jan. 8, 2014.
Fargas 3-2 in SEC Home Openers
While LSU opened its SEC slate on the road for the fourth-straight season, the Lady Tiger return to the PMAC Thursday for their SEC home opener against Florida. Under Coach Nikki Fargas, LSU is 3-2 in its SEC home opener, which includes the win over Ole Miss last season. That win over the Rebels snapped a two-game losing streak in SEC home openers.
More On SEC Home Openers
Since the 1982-83 season, LSU is 23-11 in SEC home openers. This includes a 12-6 record when the SEC home opener is NOT the SEC season opener. The Lady Tigers have played Florida in their conference home opener three times and, like Thursday’s meeting, none of the three meetings were the opening game of the SEC schedule. LSU is 3-0 in those games with wins in 2001-02, 1989-90 and 1987-88.
Record on January 5
Dating back to the 1976-77 season, LSU is 9-2 in games played on January 5. LSU has never faced Florida on 1/5, and is 5-0 in Jan. 5 games played at the PMAC. The Lady Tigers do have one home loss on Jan. 5, but that game was played at the F.G. Clark Center against Kansas State on 1/5/85.
The Starting Five
Coach Nikki Fargas has had the benefit of depth this season heading into SEC action, unlike last year. Through 14 games, LSU has used just two different starting lineups, and the lineup of Rina Hill, Alexis Hyder, Raigyne Moncrief, Chloe Jackson and Ayana Mitchell has started the last seven games and is 6-1. Last season, with the onslaught of injuries, in the first 14 games, LSU utilized five different lineup combinations. By the end of the year, Fargas had used 10 different combinations of starters.
Complete LSU Notes: http://lsul.su/2hRoHf1
For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.LSUsports.net/womensbasketball. Fans also can follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/LSUwbkb, @LSUwbkb and @LSUNikkiFargas on Twitter, @LSUwbkb and @LSUNikkiFargas on Instagram.