Playing with an edge: No. 7 LSU’s Aneesah Morrow pushes herself to excellence

Tigers host McNeese at 7 p.m. Tuesday

LSU forward Aneesah Morrow (24) had her fourth straight double-double on Sunday with 27 points and 10 rebounds against UL-Lafayette. PHOTO BY: LSU athletics

LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey has seen some of the greatest players she’s played with or coached reach for that little something extra.

It’s usually the additional motivation that can carry a player from good to great and have a tangible impact on their teammates.

Mulkey believes she’s witnessed such a development in the 10 games she’s coached DePaul transfer Aneesah Morrow, the team’s leading scorer 19.8 points and second-leading rebounder at 8.6 going into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. home game with McNeese.

“Aneesah plays somewhat with a chip on her shoulder,” Mulkey said after Sunday’s 83-53 victory over UL-Lafayette. “Kind of like most great ones do. I don’t know of a great athlete that doesn’t find some way to motivate themselves and have a chip on their shoulder. It could be a comment that’s made. It could be anything. She has that internal chip on her shoulder where she knows she can play at any level and somewhere along the way she’s expressed it.

“Some people don’t think she can,” Mulkey added. “She said it one of the press conferences (after an 82-64 win over Virginia Tech) that you don’t think I can do at LSU what I did at DePaul? I thought this kid is motivated by that. She and Angel (Reese) play well together.”

The 6-foot-1 Morrow delivered her fourth consecutive double-double, scoring a game-high 27 points, and pulling down 10 rebounds against the Ragin’ Cajuns. She was a huge force in LSU’s dominant win, a game that was tied 28-28 at halftime, with 20 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the field and 6 of 6 shooting from the free throw line, and six of her rebounds.

Morrow, like three of her teammates, found herself benched two minutes into Sunday’s game which was the first for LSU in 10 days because of final exams. Two-and-a-half minutes Morrow returned with a marginal impact on the first 18 minutes on the game until back-to-back field goals in the last 1 ½ minutes served as a precursor to the second half.

“I try to be as consistent as I possibly can and every day,” Morrow said. “My goal is to get a double-double every night. I’m a double-double machine and that’s since my freshman year. So, just staying as consistent as I possibly can.”

Freshman phenom guard Mikaylah Williams credited Morrow for her persistence and urging her to become a better player.

“Aneesah is a great leader,” said Williams, who scored 18 points on the strength of four 3-pointers on Sunday. “She pushes me every day in practice, in the games. She pushes me to be better and I push her to be better.”

Morrow arrived at LSU, the No. 2 player in the transfer portal behind teammate Hailey Van Lith, with an impressive resume after her first two years at DePaul.

She registered 53 double-doubles in 66 career games and was one of two players nationally – the other being current teammate Angel Reese – to average a double-double. She was fourth nationally in scoring (25.7) and seventh in the country in rebounding (12.2).

Morrow was a two-time All-Big Conference first team selection and was the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2021-22. She was also a second team All-America selection by four different news agencies that season.

With her new school and new surroundings Morrow needed a game before her impact was felt.

After scoring six points on 2 of 9 shooting and four rebounds in a season-opening setback to Colorado – her lone single-digit scoring effort of the season – Morrow has blossomed into the team’s leading scorer under adverse circumstances.

With Reese away from the program for four games because of unspecified reasons, Morrow took on the additional scoring responsibility and exploded when LSU took part in the Cayman Island Classic on Nov. 24-25.

That burden grew when LSU lost sophomore forward Sa’Myah Smith in the first five minutes to a knee injury of their game with Niagara. Smith will have surgery and is out for the rest of the season.

Without the presence of Reese or Smith, Morrow exceeded her season-high scoring efforts in back-to-back wins over Niagara and Virginia. She scored 28 points and had 10 rebounds in the first game and followed that with 37 points and 16 rebounds in a tense three-point win over the Cavaliers.

Morrow, who averaged 32.5 points and 13 rebounds, was voted the Cayman Islands Classic All-Tournament team. She was also selected ESPN’s national Player of the Week, the Associated Press’ Player of the Week, and the Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Week.

LSU entered its season-long layoff from competition with an 82-64 victory on Nov. 30 over then No. 9 Virginia Tech, a game Morrow further established herself with 19 points, 15 rebounds and three steals.

“I want to play against some of the best talent in the country,” Morrow was about her transfer to LSU. “Play with some of the best teammates in the country as well. I know a lot of people said what I did was at DePaul, but I can perform at any level, and I showed that tonight.”

With LSU attempting to turn back UL-Lafayette after a deadlock in the first half, Morrow and Reese combined on 12 of the team’s first 15 points of the third quarter and wound up with 22 of the team’s 28 in the quarter for a commanding 56-37 lead.

Morrow made 4 of 5 shots and had three rebounds in the fourth quarter, including a couple of putbacks, that helped the Tigers gain separation over the last five minutes of play.

“I personally feel like I’ve always been kind of hard to defend since I’ve been a freshman,” Morrow said. “I’m aggressive on the boards, offensively and defensively, and how I get in the passing lanes and just positioning myself in the right spots at the right times.”

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William Weathers

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