Kim Mulkey and the No. 13 LSU Tigers are not overlooking Vanderbilt, plus hear Mulkey sing in tribute to country music star Toby Keith (Full Video)

LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey sends her No. 10 back on the floor Thursday against Alabama. PHOTO BY: Michael Bacigalupi

Despite Vanderbilt being on a four-game losing streak and being unranked, LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey doesn’t want the No. 13-ranked Tigers to overlook the Commodores.

“[Vanderbilt] may be, in my opinion, if not the most improved team in the league, one of the most improved teams in the league,” Mulkey said. “I don’t know that I’ll have to do much motivating other than to tell my team that they beat Mississippi State and they beat Auburn and we didn’t.”

Vanderbilt’s last win came on Jan. 18 against Auburn.

Vanderbilt’s win came just four days after Auburn upset LSU 67-62. Since then, Vanderbilt has dropped consecutive games against Tennessee, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Alabama.

But before the four-game skid, the Commodores were 17-2 overall and 4-1 in SEC play.

LSU is coming off a record setting 106-66 win over Florida. In that game, LSU had six different players score 10 or more points and set the school record for most points scored in an SEC game.

“We didn’t start off all that smooth, but the grit was there,” Mulkey said. “The toughness, the energy, the physicalness and it stayed throughout the game. And that’s rewarding to see.”

Star transfer Hailey Van Lith had one of her most efficient games of the season. She scored 21 points while shooting 54.5% from the field and playing only 27 minutes.

Her improved performance came in part because junior point guard Last-Tear Poa played her most minutes since December.

“Hailey [Van Lith] was just more comfortable because she got to play her natural position, I think,” Mulkey said. “But she also was very good when she was at the point. When you can have Poa and you can have Hailey on the floor together, I think that we’re good. That doesn’t mean that we’re better than if they weren’t on the floor, but we’re good with both of them on the floor.”

Poa being on the court allowed Van Lith to play as an off-ball guard. Van Lith was an off-ball guard at Louisville and averaged 19.7 points per game the season before transferring to LSU.

Poa and Van Lith will be a combination Mulkey will return to against Vanderbilt as well as for the rest of the season. Mulkey is hopeful that the Florida game is just the beginning of a potent combination.

“Hopefully this past game against Florida, Poa is going to continue down that path,” Mulkey said. “Because it gives me an opportunity to have a great rotation when I can move Hailey [Van Lith] to the off guard some.”

Angel Reese pitched in with six assists, 10 rebounds and 14 points against Florida. Mulkey said Reese’s ability to pass the ball was another key component of opening things on the offensive end of the court for LSU.

“Angel still finds ways to get the ball to the open player,” Mulkey said. “Angel loves passing the ball and she loves bringing the ball up the floor.”

Other players also had major contributions for the Tigers against Florida. Aneesah Morrow had 18 points and 20 rebounds. Freshman Mikaylah Williams had 21 points while shooting 75% from the field.

Mulkey hopes the Florida game will be a building block for the Tigers moving forward and wants them to continue to put in good performances.

“They better bring it because people are going to bring it to them,” Mulkey said.

LSU’s game against Vanderbilt is scheduled to start on Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. in Memorial Gymnasium.

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