Arkansas women’s basketball coach Mike Neighbors held out hope that No. 10 LSU would be looking ahead to Thursday’s titanic showdown with top-ranked and undefeated South Carolina.
The Tigers needed exactly six minutes to prove they were dialed into Neighbors’ team which surrendered their most points in three years.
LSU reeled off the game’s first 18 points, allowed its lead to dwindle below single digits once, putting together its most impressive performance in Southeastern Conference play with a 99-68 victory Sunday over Arkansas.
A season-high crowd of 12,873 was on hand at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center – the seventh largest in program history.
“Looking forward to one of those trap games and get them looking forward to that,” Neighbors said. “It was pretty clear after that start they were not falling for that.”
LSU (18-2, 5-1) extended its home winning streak to 29 games behind a starting five that all scored in double figures.
Freshman Mikaylah Williams had her best game in conference play, scoring 15 of her 21 points in the first half, to go with a team-high three 3-pointers, nine rebounds and three assists. Point guard Hailey Van Lith also turned in her best effort in league play with 20 points, including a pair of threes, five rebounds and matched Last-Tear Poa with a team-best six assists.
First team All-America forward Angel Reese produced her 11th double-double of the season with 16 points and 17 rebounds, Aneesah Morrow added 14 points and eight rebounds, and Flau’jae Johnson added 13 points and four rebounds.
“I’m learning every game,” said Williams, who was 9 of 14 shooting. “I’m just learning how to play defense for an effective amount of time and just play effective basketball while I’m on the floor.”
The trio of Williams, Van Lith and Morrow each scored six points apiece to help expand LSU’s lead to 80-50 heading to the fourth quarter.
Six consecutive points from Van Lith, a traditional three-point play off an inbounds play, coupled with a 3-pointer that made it 68-41 at the five-minute mark.
Williams, who hadn’t scored in the second half, knocked down consecutive jump shots in the last two minutes and Poa’s two free throws finished a modest 8-0 run to the quarter. Freshman Janae Kent gave LSU its second 34-point lead at 95-61 with a layup with 4:15 to play.
“You can scream all you want about trying to keep Mikaylah Williams from her spot. I dare any of ya’ll (media) to step out and try and guard her,” said Neighbors, whose team played without injured leading scorer Taliah Scott. “You can’t do it. She gets to her spots as good as any kid since (UConn’s) Maya Moore in my opinion.”
The Tigers reached more than 90 points for the 10th time this season, shooting 48.6% (36 of 74) overall and 40% (8 of 20) from 3-point range. They scorched a Razorbacks’ defense that allowed 62.8 points per game for the most points since South Carolina scored 104 in 2021.
LSU was also dominant on the glass with a 60-33 showing.
“They were playing very confident, very free, pushing the ball up the floor,” Mulkey said. “Just doing a lot of active things and the crowd got into it. It was one of those games that was entertainment.”
Arkansas (14-6, 2-3) was led by Samara Spencer’s 18 points, Maryam Dauda’s 16 and Mayala Daniels’ 13.
The Razorbacks, which led the SEC with nine made 3-pointers per game, shot 48.6% (20 of 72) from the field and 26.1% (12 of 47) from 3-point range.
“Of course, the loss from Auburn stings,” Reese said of 67-62 road loss on Jan. 14. “We just want to be better from that and coming back home is always great. The fans here give us a couple of more points. We had to focus on Arkansas, but of course the big picture is Thursday and we’re ready for it.”
Van Lith opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer and LSU’s lead never dipped below double digits the rest of the way. She went on to score eight points in a quarter LSU shot 67% (10 of 15) and included 50% (4 of 8) shooting from 3-point range.
Aalyah Del Rosario, who added seven points off the bench, started a fastbreak with a blocked shot that Johnson turned into an assist when Van Lith converted in transition for a three-point play and 42-20 lead with 5:14 to go before halftime.
LSU’s point total from 3-point range included Reese’s first trifecta of the season on seven attempts for a 48-23 lead with 3:41 to go. The Tigers ended the half with a second-chance 3-pointer from Johnson and a 15-footer from Williams with 6.8 seconds left for a 55-28 lead at the break.
LSU roared out of the gate with the game’s first 18 points to establish early control.
Williams and Van Lith combined for 11 points during that stretch and Williams’ 3-pointer from the corner on a second-chance opportunity made it 18-0.
Arkansas, which missed its first seven shots and turned the ball over four times, finally scored Dauda’s 3-pointer at the 3:57 mark.
Arkansas went on to put together its best minutes of the half, outscoring LSU 13-8 on the strength of a pair of 3-pointers, but the Tigers held a 25-16 advantage after the first quarter.
“If you ask me to line up the two teams independently of each other, I’d probably be on the argument side,” said Neighbors, giving a nod to this year’s LSU team over last year’s national title team. And I don’t think they’ve played to their potential yet. They are so well coached. You can’t speed them up. You can’t take them out of what they’re trying to do.”