LEXINGTON, Ky. - With just three regular-season games remaining, the Kentucky women’s basketball team travels to Baton Rouge, La., Thursday, Feb. 21 to take on No. 6 LSU at 8:07 p.m. EST in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for the first of two straight road games. The game will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network with Neil Price and tape delayed on Cox Sports Television in Baton Rouge.
This is the second meeting between the teams this season as the Cats and Lady Tigers squared off in Rupp Arena on Jan. 27. UK fell 72-46 to then-ranked No. 9 LSU after falling behind 12-0 to start the game.
“We are going to play, in my opinion, the team that is playing the best basketball in the country right now in LSU,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Our team had a tough time with them last time. When we looked at the film we allowed a really big run at the start of the game. For us to have any chance to be competitive with them, we have to find a way to prevent those big runs from happening. That is going to be from taking better care of the basketball from last time and a lot better shot selection. It is going to be a tall order and a tough task but our team is ready to go down and give it our best shot and see how it works out because I didn’t feel like we played our best basketball last time we played them.”
Since that game, the Wildcats (13-12, 7-4 SEC) have won three of their last five and rank fourth in the Southeastern Conference standings behind nationally-ranked No. 6 LSU, No. 3 Tennessee and No. 25 Vanderbilt, respectively. They are coming off a 20-point win over Alabama on Sunday in Lexington, their largest margin of victory in SEC play this season. Senior center Sarah Elliott (McKee, Ky.) led all scorers with 16 points, scoring 12 in the first half. Junior point guard Carly Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.) returned to action after missing 16 games with sesamoiditis and turf toe in her left foot and added eight points.
Senior Samantha Mahoney (Detroit) continues to lead UK offensively as she averages a squad-best 13.1 points per game (10th in the SEC), including 11.5 in SEC play. Elliott follows with 11.0 points and leads the team in rebounding with 6.4 boards per game. Freshman forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) is close behind in both categories, averaging 7.5 points and with 6.2 rebounds per game.
No. 6 LSU (22-3, 11-0 SEC) is riding a 13-game winning streak, including 11 straight at home. Since the teams last met on Jan. 27 in Lexington, the Lady Tigers have six in a row and lead the SEC with an unblemished 11-0 conference record.
The Lady Tigers are led on both sides of the ball by All-American center Sylvia Fowles. She averages 17.2 points (4th in the SEC) and 9.8 rebounds per game (2nd in the SEC). Quianna Chaney is the only other player averaging double-digit scoring with 14.5 ppg.
“We have to prevent Fowles from getting started the way she did in our last game,” Mitchell said. “In order to do that, we are going to have to double-team and do our very best to contest shots. One thing that they did very well last time was shoot the ball extremely well from the outside and we can’t beat them if that happens again. They are just too powerful and so our job is to make it a lot tougher on Fowles. If we can get them off balance we will have a chance.”
The Lady Tigers average 71.6 points a game (3rd in the SEC) but their defense is suffocating as it allows just 50.2 points a game (2nd in the nation). LSU is outscoring its opponent by a +21.3 margin. LSU's defense has held its opponents to 34.3 percent shooting overall and 26.2 percent from long range, both numbers lead the SEC.
This is the 32nd meeting between the teams. The Lady Tigers lead the overall series 24-7, including a 10-2 advantage when playing in Baton Rouge. UK has lost 12 consecutive games to LSU, including six straight on the road against the Lady Tigers. UK’s last win over LSU was in the SEC Tournament in 1999. UK upset the 17th-ranked Tigers, 81-71. UK’s last win over LSU in Baton Rouge was in 1995. The Cats handed the Lady Tigers a 63-45 loss on Feb. 25 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
After LSU, the Wildcats head to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the Lady Razorbacks Sunday, Feb. 24 before returning to Rupp Arena for Senior Day vs. South Carolina on March 2 at 3 p.m. EST.