NASHVILLE – No. 5 LSU will take on Vanderbilt Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CT in Memorial gym as the Tigers enter the final week of the regular season with a shot to clinch the No. 2 spot in the SEC for the second straight year.
The game can be streamed on the SEC Network + and Patrick Wright will call the game on the LSU Sports Radio Network, 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge.
LSU currently sits alone at No. 2 in the conference and with wins over Vanderbilt on Thursday and at home in the season finale Sunday against Mississippi State, the Tigers would finish second two years in a row. LSU was picked in the preseason to finish No. 3 in the SEC as the Tigers look to finish higher than where they were projected in Coach Kim Mulkey’s second year leading LSU.
Also, with two wins over the next week, LSU could match the best regular season in program history as the Tigers went 27-1 throughout the 2004-05 season.
Vanderbilt is a familiar team for LSU who the Tigers opened the calendar year with on New Year’s Day, defeating the Commodores, 88-63. A lot of players stood out as Angel Reese finished with 21 points and 17 board while Alexis Morris had her first career double-double with 15 points and a career-high 12 assists. Flau’jae Johnson had 20 points and 8 rebounds while LaDazhia Williams added 12 points. The Tigers were dominant on the boards in the first matchup, winning the rebound battle, 53-22.
On Tuesday, Reese was named the SEC Player of the Week for the sixth time this season, the most player of the week honors in a single season ever by a player in the SEC. She had 36 points and 20 boards against Ole Miss last Thursday and then had 25 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists on Sunday at Florida. Jasmine Carson hit seven threes at Florida and LaDazhia Williams had a double-double in Gainesville.
Going into Thursday’s game Coach Mulkey has emphasized the team’s field goal percentage defense. LSU has held opponents to 34.8-percent shooting this season to rank No. 10 in the nation, but over the past six game opponents have combined to shoot 45.5-percent from the field.
“We better get better,” Coach Mulkey said. “We better all get on the same page. I’d better have five LSU players on that floor all knowing what we’re doing at the same time and not just one-on-one defense.”
After Vanderbilt lost its first seven conference games, the Commodores have shown improvement over the past few weeks. All three of their conference wins have come in their past three home games with victories over Texas A&M, Arkansas and most recently a dominant 79-57 win against Kentucky on Sunday.
Ciaja Harbision, who had 27 points earlier in the year in Baton Rouge, leads Vanderbilt with 19.4 points per game and 4 assists per game. Marnelle Garraud and Sacha Washington also average double figures for Vanderbilt.
“They are playing at home, and they are playing good,” Coach Mulkey said. “They are playing confident right now.
Memorial Gymnasium’s unique setup with baseline benches will be something new for the LSU coaching staff. Head Coaches can move from the baseline to the sideline, but Coach Mulkey will look to find the right balance of being on the sideline by herself and being on the baseline where she can communicate with the rest of her coaching staff.
(Press release provided by LSU Athletics)