No. 15 LSU women’s basketball team is coming off of its final bye in the Southeastern Conference schedule facing a critical road test.
The Tigers (18-4, 6-3 SEC) travel to face Ole Miss (18-4, 6-3 SEC) at 6 p.m. Monday in a game televised by the SEC Network.
“I want them to be hungry now like they were when we started,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. “Don’t become content. We have not arrived as a program. We have had an outstanding season and let’s see what happens.”
With seven games remaining in the regular season, LSU and Ole Miss enter Monday’s game with identical overall and SEC records and are tied for fourth in the SEC standings, a half-game behind Florida.
“We’re trying to, down the stretch, do something that hasn’t been done here in a long time,” Mulkey said. “You’ve got to just be as hard-nosed, aggressive, tough, physical as you can be in man-to-man.”
The game will also be broadcast locally by 107.3-FM.
It’s been a week since LSU rallied from a five-point deficit entering the fourth quarter for a 78-69 win over Kentucky. Khayla Pointer scored 19 of her game-high 28 points 19 in the final quarter.
Pointer leads the Tigers in scoring 19.1 points and 5.1 assists per game and is second in rebounding at 6.3. Senior guard Alexis Morris averages 15 points.
Graduate student center Faustine Aifuwa leads the SEC in conference play with a .605 field goal percentage. She is scoring 10.3 points per game this season, but her defense will be a key to LSU’s success on Monday.
Ole Miss features on of the top defenses in the country, limiting opponents to 54.1 points per game which ranks 14th nationally. The Rebels have held opponents under 50 a program-record 11 times this season, but LSU will counter with an offense that scored 76.5 points per game which is No. 23 in the NCAA.
Shakira Austin is one of the top players in the SEC with a scoring average of 14.5 points. Mulkey has said it will need to be a defensive team effort to shut Austin down, but Aifuwa will be LSU’s primary defender on the Ole Miss big.
“You can’t guard Austin one-on-one,” Coach Mulkey said. “You just can’t. She is a post player that Faus is going to have to guard, but at the same time I cannot expect Faus to do it by herself. The good thing is she is not a post player that is going to take Faus outside and shoot the three ball and drive by her. Most of her work is done on the offensive glass. Most of her work is done at the high post. And most of her work is done on the 360 move on the block. We can give her help there.”
The Tigers have won 14 of its past 15 games against Ole Miss, including the past eight matchups. Both games last season went into overtime.