BATON ROUGE – After splitting its two road games last week, the No. 15 LSU women’s basketball team returns home to the friendly confines of the Maravich Center when the Lady Tigers play host to Auburn on Thursday.
Thursday’s tip time is on-tap for 7 p.m., and the LSU Sports Radio Network will carry the game on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge. Live video and live audio also will be available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live. Patrick Wright, the voice of the Lady Tigers, has the radio call.
LSU (14-4, 3-2 SEC) is coming off a 79-70 loss to Vanderbilt and heads into this week’s action tied for third place in the SEC standings. The Lady Tigers sliced a 19-point second half deficit down to seven points on multiple occasions, but the Commodores were able to extend the home team’s winning streak in the series to 10 games with the nine-point victory.
“After the Vanderbilt game, you obviously have to go back to the drawing board,” head coach Nikki Caldwell said. “We’ve got to be better defensively, and we’ve got to be more committed to guarding players. We can’t lose sight of our defensive scheme. We have to go out and guard to the best of our ability every time we take the floor.”
Theresa Plaisance has picked up a team-leading 13.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. She has garnered eight consecutive double figure scoring efforts and has boosted her average to 16.2 points per game in SEC action. The New Orleans native heads into the Auburn game six rebounds shy of becoming the 18th player in program history to amass 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.
“It’s definitely a tribute to Theresa but more importantly to her teammates,” Caldwell said. “She would be the first one to say that she had a great screen set for you, a great pass or someone setting you up to be able to great offensive rebound. The thing about Theresa is that she can score in multiple ways. She can post you, and she’s got a good midrange jump shot. The sky is the limit for her.”
Danielle Ballard has secured a solid all-around 10.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. She pumped in 23 points during the Vanderbilt game, her second-highest scoring performance of the season. In SEC action, Ballard has pulled down 7.6 rebounds per game which is tied for ninth in the SEC rankings.
Jeanne Kenney and Raigyne Moncrief have added 11.2 points and 10.7 points per game, respectively, to give LSU four players averaging in double figures. During SEC action, Kenney has dished out 4.8 assists per game to rank tied for sixth place. She also has registered 10-plus points in six of her last eight appearances. Moncrief provided nine points and four rebounds at Vanderbilt.
Last time out at Vanderbilt, LSU’s bench has held to single digits for the first time all season. DaShawn Harden has turned in 7.6 points per game and 22 of her 44 field goals have been from three-point territory. She has hit at least one triple in 11 of 17 outings.
“We’ve never been in this situation where we’re receiving a lot of the recognition of the polls,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got to understand that everybody is going to come at you. We’ve got to be ready to compete at a level that was far better that what we were last month or the week before. It’s getting to crunch time. I don’t want this team to be that team that waits until the end of SEC schedule to make a push. We need to be making that push right now because each and every opponent we face in the SEC is very capable and comes out every night and competes.”
Auburn (11-7, 2-3 SEC) is being led by Tyrese Tanner, who has provided a balanced 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Tanner is coming off a 28-point performance during Auburn’s 73-71 loss to Kentucky.
Hasina Muhammad has added 12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. She missed Sunday’s game to due injury. The Tigers also have Brady Montgomery (11.1 PPG) and Tra’Cee Tanner (10.2 PPG) averaging in double figures.
“Tanner works hard,” Caldwell said. “I think she does an extremely great job on the top of their press to turn you over and get a couple of easy baskets. She can post, and she’s got a good face up game. She’s done a nice job of establishing herself as a go-to player.”
Auburn carries a 29-19 series advantage, but LSU has won 13 of the last 17 meetings dating back to the 2001-02 season. The Lady Tigers defeated Auburn twice last season which included a 65-62 victory at the SEC Tournament. Plaisance tallied 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Adrienne Webb registered 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
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.