BATON ROUGE - A national television audience awaits as the LSU women's basketball team begins a monumental home stretch against three consecutive ranked teams beginning with 16th-ranked Texas A&M in the "Gold Game" at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2 "Big Monday" in the Maravich Center.
The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive free gold LSU basketball t-shirts. All fans are encouraged to wear gold. All tickets for Monday's contest are half priced. General admission tickets now cost $3 for adults and $1.50 for youth, ages 12 and under. Reserved tickets are now only $5 (lower) and $4 (middle).
The contest will also serve as a student priority point game for current LSU students. LSU students are admitted into the arena free of charge with a valid LSU ID. Tickets can be purchased at www.LSUtix.net. The Maravich Center ticket box office will open at 7 p.m. on the upper ramp.
LSU is hosting its first ESPN2 "Big Monday" matchup since Feb. 25, 2008 against top-ranked Connecticut. Pam Ward and Rebecca Lobo will call the action. ESPN3.com will also carry the contest, and it can be viewed on tablets via the Watch ESPN app. The LSU Sports Radio Network pregame show begins at 7:30 p.m. It can be heard on Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge or in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/geauxzone.
The Lady Tigers (13-8, 4-4) have protected their home floor this season with eight straight home wins and a 10-1 record. This week, they will be hosting three straight ranked Southeastern Conference teams for the first time in school history.
"We are going to see some great play from both teams," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "Each team understands that every win in the SEC is an important win. We are going to see two of the best post players in the country in Theresa Plaisance and Kelsey Bone."
Plaisance leads the SEC in scoring with 18.2 points per game, while Bone is third in the league at 17.1 points per contest. Both LSU and Texas A&M are two of the most efficient offenses in the nation. The Aggies lead the SEC in field goal percentage (47.2), while the Lady Tigers are third at 43.7 percent.
Texas A&M (17-5, 7-1) now sits in sole possession of second place in the SEC following Kentucky's loss on Sunday. The Aggies have won five consecutive games and have dropped only one conference game with that coming against the Wildcats on Jan. 10.
LSU snapped a five-game road losing streak and recorded its first SEC road win with a gutsy 59-55 victory at Auburn on Thursday. Despite committing 25 turnovers, the Lady Tigers made their free throws down the stretch. Adrienne Webb led all scorers with 21 points, while freshman Danielle Ballard collected a key steal in the final 20 seconds to preserve the win.
"Thursday was a huge confidence booster," said Caldwell. "We had been in every game on the road in SEC play. This team is doing a great job of understanding our scouting reports now. We are not over-extending our defense. We are doing a much better job of disrupting guard play, which helps eliminate a lot of touches going into the paint."
LSU and Texas A&M are meeting for the first time as SEC opponents. The Lady Tigers lead the series, 7-4, and the two are meeting for the first time since a Dec. 20, 1994, contest that saw the Aggies win 78-52 in College Station.
LSU faces a quick turnaround following Monday's game as the No. 9 Tennessee Lady Vols come to Baton Rouge for an 8 p.m. CT Thursday tip.
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LSU Head Coach Nikki Caldwell
On the matchup ...
"We are going to see some great play from both teams. Each team understands that every win in the SEC is an important win. We are going to see two of the best post players in the country in Theresa Plaisance and Kelsey Bone. I am excited for that matchup. Our guard play has really stepped it up, especially on the defensive end. They have strong guard play defenders as well. I do see this being a matchup of what team can best stick to their defensive plan."
On what makes Kelsey Bone a great player ...
"Her teammates. You have got to have great teammates around you who understand spacing and extend the defense. Kelsey Bone is also a special player because she plays unselfish. She is second on their team in assists in SEC play. She understands getting her guards good looks. They also give her great looks."
On the momentum building win at Auburn ...
"Thursday was a huge confidence booster. We had been in every game on the road in SEC play. We just hadn't finished. We stayed composed under pressure. We made sure we had the right people in the right spots. I thought our shot selection down the stretch was good. More importantly, we got the defensive stops we needed to."
On the improving defense ...
"This team is doing a great job of understanding our scouting reports now. We are not over-extending our defense. We are doing a much better job of disrupting guard play, which helps eliminate a lot of touches going into the paint. We have got to better in our transition defense."
LSU Jr. F Theresa Plaisance
On the matchup ...
"Definitely, excited. It's a big opportunity for us against a great team in Texas A&M. They will be well prepared and have a strong inside game. We have to match their intensity and intelligence. We are all ready for a great game."
On Texas A&M's Kelsey Bone ...
"It's going to be a great matchup. She's one of the best players in the country. She has a great inside game. When her inside game isn't there, she knows how to dish the ball out."
On the win at Auburn ...
"Going on the road and finally getting that SEC road win was a great feeling. We didn't play our best, but in the end we pulled it off. Confidence wise, it has helped us out a lot. We had been waiting for that one game to turn around on the road, and we did it."