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Lady Tigers Host No. 16 Kentucky

LSU looks to pick up its second win over a ranked conference opponent in the PMAC

NCAA Womens Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Texas A&M vs Louisiana State Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Conference play has been off to mixed results for the Lady Tigers of LSU. At 2-2, LSU has had its fair share of peaks and valleys in the rigorous SEC.

The Tigers highest of highs was a 63-52 win over the then No. 21 Aggies, but they were unable to spring a second upset over a ranked opponent and was walloped by, coincidentally enough, the then No. 21 South Carolina Gamecocks 76-53. Mix in splitting a pair of road games with a loss in the conference opener to Georgia and a win over Ole Miss last Thursday and your Tigers are in an early 2-2 logjam with Auburn, A&M, Arkansas and tonight’s opponent, the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats.

Kentucky boasts a potent offense scoring nearly 80 a night and a nasty defense that holds opponents to about 57 points a game. The Cats loom large as a challenge for LSU because the Tigers don’t score nearly as efficiently as Kentucky does. Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard and Maci Morris are each averaging 17 points a game and Taylor Murray is right behind the duo with 12 points a game.

One of the biggest reasons why Kentucky’s scoring so many points a game is because the three ball has been kind to the Wildcats. Kentucky leads the league in both made threes and three-point percentage, nearly connecting on 40 percent of their attempts. The Wildcats have four players hitting at least 36 percent of their threes, with Morris leading the team at 47 percent. For further context, Kentucky’s knocked down 135 three-pointers this year; LSU’s attempted 186. If LSU’s going to hang with Kentucky, they’ll have to have another night where they eliminate the three ball from their opponents’ arsenal. To date, LSU’s only allowing opponents to hit about 27 percent of their threes, that has to continue because LSU’s hardly the team that will outscore you.

They say ball security is job security and for LSU that will have to be the case Thursday night. LSU turns it over about 17 times a game, and their assist to turnover ratio is in the negatives. That won’t fly against UK especially with Murray and Howard ranking first and fourth in the conference in steals respectively. The pesky Kentucky backcourt spearheads a group that is second in the SEC in total steals, though LSU is right behind the Cats in third place.

LSU vs. Kentucky is as strength vs. strength as it gets. LSU’s defense against Kentucky’s offense is the game at the macro level, and the Tigers’ ability to prevent the three-ball going against the Cats’ proficiency at it is the micro. When LSU upset Texas A&M, the Tigers held the Aggies to 1-8 from behind the line; when the Tigers got run out of the PMAC by the Gamecocks, Carolina was 7-19. The Lady Tigers have shown they can beat ranked opponents inside the PMAC, they can also get walloped by them. If LSU can take away the three-ball, there’s a chance the Tigers can claim their second win over a top-25 team. If not, it’s South Carolina all over again.

LSU hosts Kentucky tonight in the PMAC at 6:30pm. The game will air on SECN+