BATON ROUGE – The No. 16 LSU women’s basketball team wraps up a stretch of three consecutive Thursday home games and welcomes Missouri to the Maravich Center for the first time as a SEC rival. The last time Missouri played in Baton Rouge was during the 1988-89 season.
Thursday’s tip time is slated for 7 p.m. with live video and live audio available inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live. 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, along with Jeff Palermo has the radio call.
Tickets are on-sale at http://www.lsutix.net/ starting as low as $2. The Missouri game can be paired with any remaining home game as part of a four-game “Purple Pack.” The $20 package includes a 200-level reserved ticket. The first 2,000 fans will receive an “Earned Never Given” commemorative cup.
Last time out, LSU (17-5, 6-3 SEC) began the second half of its SEC season and was handed a 63-56 road defeat by No. 13 Kentucky. The Lady Tigers nearly wiped away a 15-point hole over the final 11 minutes.
LSU has won 24 of its 28 home decisions under Nikki Caldwell’s watch during the last two seasons at the Maravich Center. The Lady Tigers are 9-1 this season and have won their nine games by a combined 164 points which has resulted in an average margin of victory of 18.2 points per game.
LSU heads into Thursday’s game tied for fourth place with Florida and Vanderbilt in the SEC standings. The Lady Tigers are ranked No. 5 with the nation’s toughest strength of schedule in this week’s edition of the RPI. LSU is one of only three SEC programs and one of just 12 teams nationally to collect 10-plus wins over RPI Top 100 opponents.
“It’s still anybody’s championship to be won,” Caldwell said. “The most important thing we’ve got to focus in on is being a 40-minute team. We’ve got to be ready to defend the different styles of the SEC. This week with Missouri you’ve got a team that can shoot the three followed by Texas A&M who is going to be that mid-range power game type of team. Facing these teams and these different styles is only preparing us for the NCAA tournament.”
Theresa Plaisance has racked up a team-leading 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. She has ripped off 10-plus points during her last 12 games and improved her scoring average to 16.4 points per game in SEC action which is fifth on the league leaderboard. Plaisance has scored 86 of her 148 points during the second half against SEC opponents and her 1,089 career points are 27th on LSU’s all-time list.
Raigyne Moncrief has provided 11.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game. The freshman guard has amassed double figures in three of her last four games highlighted by a SEC season’s best 19 points at No. 13 Kentucky. She has connected on 21-of-43 from the floor en route to a 48.8 shooting clip in her last four outings. Moncrief’s 11.3 points per game are fourth among SEC freshmen.
“Raigyne is one of the brightest players I’ve been around as far as her basketball IQ and her being an engineering major,” Caldwell said. “She’s that student-athlete that will find time to do extra work in the classroom and on the basketball court. I know when she was struggling as far as handling the basketball; she was getting in the gym with two basketball’s working on fundamentals. It’s showing in her performance, and she’s done a really nice job for us.”
Jeanne Kenney has accounted for 10.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. She has drained 40.4 percent of her three-pointers, good enough for second place in SEC rankings. Kenney’s 3.7 assists per game are 11th in the SEC.
Shanece McKinney has tallied 8.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. The senior center has registered 11 blocks over her last four games and posted 1.6 blocks per game which are fifth among the SEC leaders. McKinney put together a career-high 19 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting last Thursday during the Mississippi State game.
Danielle Ballard has contributed 8.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 0.5 steals per game. She will look to bounce back from being held scoreless during the Kentucky game.
After outscoring its opponents during 15 of LSU’s first 17 games, the bench has been held in single digits in three of the last five games. DaShawn Harden continues to lead the charge from the bench with 7.0 points per game.
LSU has won four of the six all-time meetings with Missouri which includes an 87-68 victory three weeks ago in Columbia. The Lady Tigers canned a school-record 13 treys and had to erase an early 10-point deficit. Kenney led the way and exploded for a career-high 30 points aided by six triples.
Missouri (14-8, 3-6 SEC) has dropped three of its last four outings since the LSU game. Bri Kulas has pumped in 18.7 points and added 6.9 rebounds per game. She has upped her average to a SEC-leading 21.0 points per game in league play and put together a career-high 30 points against LSU earlier this season. Morgan Eye has tacked on 11.8 points per game with 72 of her 85 field goals coming from beyond the three-point line.
As a team, Missouri has buried a SEC-leading 9.5 triples per game. The Tigers hit 10 three-pointers versus LSU during the first half three weeks ago. Four players have knocked down 25 treys for the season. Morgan Stock and Maddie Stock have combined for 69 of their 86 baskets being three-pointers.
“Missouri puts us in a hole quickly at their place,” Caldwell said. “We can’t have defensive breakdowns. I thought we missed our coverage, and I didn’t think we did a nice job of defending the three. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen because they are very explosive as far as putting up points quickly. Defensive assignments are going to be the key. We’re going to do our best to limit Kulas’ touches, and we can’t allow Eye to go off on us. Those two are just two fabulous players in our conference.”
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.