Arkansas Prepares For No. 2 LSU

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Arkansas women's coach Susie Gardner won't dwell on the fact that tonight's opponent, LSU, is No. 2 in the country.

"If we make a big deal out of that, it becomes overwhelming," Gardner said. "In the Southeastern Conference, it seems like every other game is against a Top 10 or Top 20 team anyway."

The Lady Tigers (16-1, 3-0 SEC) boast household names like Seimone Augustus, a 6-foot-1 All-America guard averaging 20.2 points, and Temeka Johnson, a flashy 5-3 senior point guard averaging 10.1 points and 6.8 assists.

Arkansas (10-5, 1-4) is just trying to survive the SEC wars, game by game.

"Our rotation has changed since Kristin Moore injured her knee," Gardner said. "We're awfully small, but we're trying to be creative with it and get more production from our guards."

Gardner has changed her sideline demeanor, too.

"At Austin Peay, I'd be chewing players out with a 20-point lead for the littlest things," she said. "But the last thing we need right now is for someone to keep kicking the players. I've been trying to be a positive, and not making every play as big of a deal as I sometimes do."

Gardner stayed calm on Sunday, while the Lady Razorbacks halted Mississippi State's 12-game winning streak, 83-71.

Arkansas guard Adrienne Bush, who helped contain SEC leading scorer Tan White in the first half of that game, will now get a chance against the league's No. 2 scorer, Augustus.

"I'll try to limit her touches," said Bush, who at 5-foot-8 is five inches shorter than Augustus.

Gardner said, "I don't know any other solution to it. Rochelle Vaughn (5-9) could be a second option for us if LSU starts posting up with Augustus. Or we could try (6-foot forward) Danielle Allen. We put 'D' on Tan White when she posted up. But Seimone isn't their only All-America type."

Arkansas gave LSU fits in the first halves of both games last season, leading 33-23 in Fayetteville and trailing just 36-32 at Baton Rouge, before losing 73-65 and 92-65, respectively.

"We used a different defense at our place and confused them," Gardner recalled. "But Augustus got on fire with her mid-range game in the second half. At their place, it wasn't close in the second half."

In fact, LSU outscored Arkansas 56-33 in the second half at Baton Rouge, pouring it on down the stretch.

Will the Lady'Backs recall that humiliation?

"I don't even bring up last year," Gardner said. "We're not even the same personality this year."

The Lady'Backs don't have a go-to player like Shameka Christon, last year's SEC Player of the Year, but they do have competitors.

For example, Gardner said about UA point guards Kristin Peoples and Brittney Vaughn, "Knowing those two, they'll be excited about playing against someone of Temeka Johnson's caliber."

Adding a little spice to this game is that Arkansas has signed Whitney Jones, the younger sister of LSU starting forward Wendlyn Jones of Blytheville.

Wendlyn Jones, a 6-1 junior, averages 4.8 points and 5.3 rebounds for LSU.

The Lady Tigers also have 6-5 freshman reserve center Sylvia Fowles of Miami, Fla., who averages 11.9 points and 8.8 rebounds.

UA assistant Amber Shirey said, "LSU is so comfortable in their motion offense that they make it look almost effortless. They're hard to guard, because you don't know where they're going."

Sarah Pfeifer, who led Arkansas with 21 points against Mississippi State, will have to contend with Jones and 6-3 senior Tillie Willis inside.

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