LEXINGTON, Ky. - A week after a confidence-building win over Vanderbilt, the LSU women's basketball team faces and even tougher test at 2 p.m. CT Sunday as the Lady Tigers take on the fourth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats in Memorial Coliseum.
Sunday's contest will be televised by Fox Sports Net Southwest and it will be streamed on www.ESPN3.com. Tablet owners can watch the game on the Watch ESPN app outside of the Southeastern Conference market. The LSU Sports Radio Network will carry the contest on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge and to members of the Geaux Zone on www.LSUsports.net.
LSU (12-7, 3-3 SEC) did not play Thursday night but moved into a tie with Vanderbilt for sixth place in the league standings. Four out of the Lady Tigers' next five games are against ranked teams as the midway point of the SEC schedule approaches.
Kentucky (18-2, 6-1) dropped its first league game of the year on Thursday night at No. 14 South Carolina. The Wildcats committed 18 turnovers and were held to 32.8 percent shooting in a 55-50 loss in Columbia. The loss snapped Kentucky's 17-game winning streak and it was the team's first loss since at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 13.
LSU is seeking to end a four-game road losing streak, though, the Lady Tigers played well at South Carolina two weeks ago.
"The fight and heart we played with at South Carolina, we have to play like that for 40 (minutes)," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "I feel like this team is really starting to understand that it is a 40-minute basketball game. Going up against an opponent like Kentucky, taking care of the basketball is going to be key. They do a great job of bringing pressure to the ball for 94 feet."
LSU trailed only 26 seconds in 80 minutes of basketball against defending champion Kentucky last season, posting a pair of double-digit wins. The Lady Tigers won the regular season meeting 61-51 in Baton Rouge before claiming a 72-61 victory in the SEC Tournament that lifted LSU into the championship game. Kentucky's last lead against LSU was at the 16:33 mark in the second half of the regular season meeting on Feb. 5, 2012.
After pouring in 26 points against Vanderbilt, Theresa Plaisance is back atop the SEC as the league's leading scorer with 18.3 points per game. She takes a streak of 18 consecutive double-figure scoring games - the longest by an LSU player in five years - into Sunday's contest.
Junior guard Jeanne Kenney leads the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio in SEC games (3.1). She's dished out 25 assists and committed only eight turnovers. In SEC play, Bianca Lutley is the Lady Tigers' second-leading scorer with 12.8 points per game. Lutley has scored in double-figures in four of LSU's six conference games.
Kentucky is led by the preseason SEC Player of the Year in senior A'dia Mathies, who is averaging 15.2 points per game. Under head coach Matthew Mitchell, the Wildcats continue to speed teams up and force turnovers. They have forced a league-best 25.7 turnovers per game. They also lead the nation in turnover margin.
"We have to be disciplined in our half-court defense," said Caldwell. "They have a lot of different weapons from A'dia Mathies all the way to DeNesha Stallworth. We have to make sure we are there on the catch and finishing defensively. We have had players step up for us too. Bianca Lutley is playing better in SEC play. Jeanne Kenney has been a floor general for us, and Theresa Plaisance has been unstoppable. We need to continue to use that balanced attack."
Caldwell and the Lady Tigers will attend Saturday's LSU men's basketball game against the Wildcats in Rupp Arena before practicing at Memorial Coliseum later that evening.