SEC Tournament Time for Coach Flo's Tigers

The Auburn women's basketball team will play LSU on Thursday night in the SEC Tournament.

Duluth, Ga.--Auburn will be looking to keep its season alive, avenge a close regular season loss and advance to the quarter-finals of the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament on Thursday night vs. LSU.

Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CST from the Gwinnett Center where first-year Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy will send her team onto the court vs. an opponent that defeated Auburn 59-55 at the end of January.

"They are really excited about playing in the tournament," Williams-Flournoy said. "I am glad they won the last game of the season so they wouldn't have to play in the opening round. That gives them an extra day of rest to get ready to play."

If Auburn had lost on Sunday to Mississippi State the Tigers would have had to play on Wednesday on day one of the tournament, which is using a new five-day format this season with the league featuring 14 teams instead of 12.

Williams-Flournoy said one of the keys to success for the Tigers on Thursday will be dealing with LSU's top player, six-foot-five Theresa Plaisance, who is averaging 17.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest during a breakout junior season.

"It is a tough matchup because she is not your typical post," Williams-Flournoy said. "She is kind of like Blanche (Auburn senior Blanche Alverson) because she can step outside and shoot the three. She is better when she can go on the block and score there as well.

"They have some really good guards who can take it to the basket, who have a mid-range game and can shoot the three," the coach added. Senior guard Adrienne Webb is averaging 13.9 and 3.8 rebounds points per game for LSU while freshman guard Danielle Ballard is contributing 12.6 point and 6.7 rebounds.

Auburn shot 48.1 percent from the field in its win over Mississippi State, something the Tigers need to do on Thursday night, their coach noted. "They play that two-three matchup (zone) which can be difficult to go against if you are not shooting the ball well," Williams-Flournoy said.

Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy is shown on the sideline with junior center Peyton Davis.

Defensively, Auburn's coach said she likes what she has seen from the Tigers in the past two games in which they forced 26 turnovers vs. Vandy and 31 vs. Mississippi State. The Tigers converted the 31 MSU turnovers into 31 points.

"They really are beginning to understand that it is our defense that is going to win more games for us because on our offensive end sometimes you just do not know what you are going to get," Williams-Flournoy said.

Auburn comes into the game with a 16-13 record. The Tigers are 5-11 in SEC play. Second team All-SEC pick Hasina Muhammad is leading the Tigers in scoring at 14.7 per game. The sophomore guard is averaging 5.0 rebounds.

Junior guard Tyrese Tanner is averaging 13 points per game and Alverson is Auburn's top rebounder at 5.9 per contest to go with her average of 12.6 points, which improved after scoring a career-high 32 points on Sunday.

Alverson said she is looking forward to the rematch with LSU, which is 19-10 overall and 10-6 in the SEC. LSU has won seven of its last nine games, including six straight.

"I?think we are a really dangerous team right because we competed with a lot of the teams in the conference and we competed with LSU," Alverson said. "We think that is a game we let slip away from us."

The Tigers will be looking for another strong performance from Alverson, who hit 12-16 field goals in her team's Senior Day victory to close the regular season. The senior forward was 5-9 on threes and 3-3 at the foul line.

"It was an awesome experience to go out in that way," she said of her final home game.

This week Alverson was named the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year for women's basketball, repeating the honor the pre-med student won as a junior. Also during her senior season she was voted Miss Homecoming and was named to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Good Works Team.

The Tigers, who won three of their last five league games, have gotten a boost with the return of senior Jet Ouardad, who had been sidelined with an injury.

"It has been great to get her back out there," Williams-Flournoy said, noting that having a confident senior point guard on the floor is a major plus for her team. "It helps with the dynamics and the chemistry to get your starters back on the floor together." Ouardad is averaging 6.1 assists per contest.

The Auburn-LSU game will be televised on Fox SportsSouth. The winner advances to the third round of the tournament to play Georgia on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CST.

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