LSU a No. 3 Seed to Host 14-seed Rice

Aneesah Morrow led LSU with 19 points and a double-double but turnovers and fatigue costs the Tigers in brawl-filled loss. Photo by LSU Athletics

 LSU is set to be a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face 14-seed Rice in the first-round in the PMAC later this week. Days and times will be announced later.

LSU will also host the matchup between 6-seed Louisville and 11-seed Middle Tennessee in the PMAC. The winner of both games will meet in the PMAC two days later for an opportunity to play in the Sweet 16 in the Albany 2 Regional. The No. 1 seed in the Albany 2 regional is Iowa who LSU defeated last season in the national championship.

For the third time in three seasons, Coach Kim Mulkey has the Tigers hosting first- and second-round games in the NCAA Tournament as a three seed. The Tigers were a No. 3 seed the past two seasons and became just the third No. 3 seed ever last season to win the national championship – the lowest seed that has ever won it all. Coach Mulkey is one of two coaches (Carolyn Peck, Purdue) to win a national championship in her second season leading a program and she is the only coach, men’s or women’s, credited with a national championship victory at two schools.

Tickets go on sale Monday at 9 a.m. CT on Season ticket holders are reminded that, since this is officially an NCAA event, they may not have the same seats they sat in throughout the regular season. All tickets will be sent via mobile delivery.

As defending national champions and after a successful offseason bringing in the top-ranked freshmen class and the nation’s top two players in the transfer portal, LSU entered the season ranked No. 1. With a lot of new pieces, LSU dropped its season opener against an experienced Colorado team before winning the remainder of its non-conference games, including a 2023 Final Four rematch over No. 9 Virginia Tech.

LSU finished January with a 5-3 record in SEC play, dropping games at Auburn, against No. 1 South Carolina and at Mississippi State. The Tigers finished the regular season on an eight-game win streak and then won two games at the SEC Tournament before falling in the championship game to South Carolina. The Tigers’ offense has been top notch all season, averaging 86.7 points per game (No 2 in the nation). But with so many new faces, it took LSU some time to get on the same page defensively. Since the calendar turned to February, LSU has been a new team on the defensive end, holding opponents to 62.0 points per game and .353 shooting the ball.

Angel Reese has continued her dominance that helped lead the Tigers to the championship last year. She was named SEC Player of the Year after averaging 19.0 and 13.1 rebounds per game; she became first the player since Wendy Scholtens of Vanderbilt (1989 and 90) to lead the SEC in scoring and rebounding in consecutive seasons. Reese has 23 double-doubles this year and has scored in double figures in all 65 of her games at LSU.

Aneesah Morrow, a transfer from DePaul, has joined Reese to create one of the nation’s top post duos. Morrow has 20 double-doubles herself and her and Reese have recorded double-doubles in the same game 13 times this year. The Chicago native is averaging 16.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Morrow is the only active only non-senior in the country with at least 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. She has been great defensively too. Her 86 steals currently rank No. 6 for the most in a season by a LSU player.

Flau’Jae Johnson was back after claiming SEC Freshman of the Year last season. She has improved her all-around game this year with an increase in scoring, shooting percentage, assists and steals. She has improved her ability to drive the ball into the paint with a knack for making athletic plays to finish at the rim. Johnson is averaging 14.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Mikaylah Williams was named SEC Freshman of the Year this season after starting the whole year for LSU except at the end when she was sidelined for three games with a minor injury that was more precautionary than anything with the NCAA Tournament on the horizon. In just her fourth college game, Williams scored 42 points against Kent State, the most by a LSU freshman during the NCAA era. She is averaging 14.4 points per game while grabbing 4.8 rebounds with a total of 91 assists.

Hailey Van Lith, after transferring from Louisville, has worked on becoming a point guard under Coach Mulkey. A natural shooting guard, Van Lith has increased her assists with 3.7 assists per game which is on track for the best of her career. She is scoring 12.3 points per game which is down from last season but is still a threat to score 20 any game with her shooting ability. When LSU needed a spark at Tennessee, Van Lith scored 26 with 7 rebounds, 3 assists and zero turnovers to lead the Tigers to a road victory.

LSU has used a small rotation, mainly relying on Last-Tear Poa as a guard reserved and Aalyah Del Rosario as a post reserve. Poa is still in concussion protocol following the injury last Saturday. Del Rosario, a freshman, has shown continued improvement and confidence throughout the season. Janae Kent also played key minutes for LSU at the SEC Tournament and showed her defensive ability as someone who can come in and help the Tigers get key stops.

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