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The Battle for #1

This Sunday LSU travels to the defending champions house to take on the unbeaten Gamecocks

On Sunday, the big game finally comes. Everyone has been waiting for this one. All eyes will be on it. It is Super Sunday.

I am talking about #3 LSU women’s basketball’s road trip (23-0, 10-0 SEC) to #the 1 South Carolina Gamecocks (23-0, 9-0 SEC), a battle of the last two undefeated teams in women’s basketball.

Well, assuming that South Carolina beats Auburn on the road (spoiler alert: they can play abysmally and would still win that game).

It is a matchup that will test LSU in a way that they have not been tested yet and will give the Tigers a chance to prove that they belong in the top tier of women’s basketball.

South Carolina is the undisputed number one in women’s basketball. They are the defending national champions and undefeated. Frankly, they have a case for being the most talented team ever to play the collegiate game.

They have nine players who were previously McDonald’s All-Americans (LSU has three). This has allowed the Gamecocks to go 11 deep with their depth and it has often been overwhelming to opponents. They are #1 in scoring margin in the nation (the Tigers are #2).

Perhaps their biggest strength is inside with center Aaliyah Boston, the defending national player of the year. Her stats are down this year from last season when she set an SEC record for most consecutive double-doubles (surpassing then record holder LSU graduate Sylvia Fowles), however, she has been playing significantly less due to their depth.

Boston put up a monster 26 points and 11 rebounds double double against UConn. If she does the same against LSU, she might repeat as player of the year over LSU’s own double-double queen Angel Reese.

Along with Boston, senior Victoria Saxton make up the starting posts of the Gamecocks. I suspect Boston will match up with LSU graduate transfer Ladazhia Williams while the Gamecocks put Saxton on Reese (this was what they did against Maryland).

If one of South Carolina’s formable post players gets into foul trouble, they have the luxury of bringing in 6’7’ Kamilia Cardoso, a former ACC freshman of the year.

South Carolina is by far the strongest team in the post that LSU has played and that may be where the matchup is decided.

The Gamecock are first in rebound margin, the Tigers are second. South Carolina is first in blocks per game, LSU is sixth. Both teams get over 50% of point inside of the paint.

It will be strength versus strength down low. LSU will need a big game from Angel Reese and her fellow post players to keep up, but they will need big games from their guards to win.

LSU has three guards who average double figures in freshman Flau’Jae Johnson and seniors Alexis Morris and Jasmine Carson. The Gamecocks only have one player averaging double figures at guard senior Zia Cooke (in fact, just two players on the team average double figures). LSU also ranks 20th in the nation in three point percentage over 150 spots higher than South Carolina.

The Gamecocks have some really talented defenders in their backcourt, so LSU will need to control the ball and score with its guards to have a chance. That has not been easy for South Carolina’s opponents.

One thing to keep an eye for in the game is if LSU can get an early lead. South Carolina has fallen behind early in the last few years. This season they noticeably fell behind early against UConn and Stanford, last season they trailed early against LSU in the PMAC. In all three cases, they ultimately pulled away. The Tigers have not trailed at half this season.

This will be a sold-out crowd of over 18,000. The Gamecocks will have plenty of support. But if you want to be the best you have to beat the best and LSU will gets its shot Sunday.