STARKVILLE, Miss. – Two of the SEC's elite defenses meet at 7 p.m. Thursday as the LSU women seeks their eighth straight victory and conclude a three-game road trip at Mississippi State in Humphrey Coliseum.
LSU (10-3, 1-0 SEC) brings in the league's longest win streak, which is their longest since winning the first nine games of the 2009 season. LSU is coming off one of its most efficient offensive displays in recent memory in an 83-44 blowout of Ole Miss on New Year's Day in Oxford.
The Lady Tigers dished out 26 assists and rank second in the SEC in assists per game with 17.1. Unselfish offensive play and suffocating defense has been the formula for success for Nikki Caldwell's LSU team during the win streak.
"We have progressed through our leadership," Caldwell said. "It's very contagious when you have unselfish play. It takes a lot for a player to give up shots. It makes you feel good when you give up the basketball to another player for an open look. We have worked extremely hard at that in practice and now it's showing in a game."
No one has been better in the league in field-goal percentage defense than the Lady Tigers and Lady Bulldogs. LSU leads the SEC and ranks fourth in the nation in holding opponents to 30.9% from the floor. Mississippi State (10-3) comes in second in the league, allowing only 33.7%.
The Lady Bulldogs are beginning conference play after being idle on New Year's Day. State hasn't played since a 67-63 win over Nevada at the Reno-Tahoe Classic on Dec. 30. LSU will have to shut down the SEC's top scorer as senior guard Diamber Johnson is producing a league-best 18.3 points per game.
"Their guard play is strong," Caldwell said. "We are going to have to be committed to our defensive philosophy on the perimeter game in making sure we are not giving up easy baskets. They are also a very good defensive team. We have to make sure that we are taking care of the basketball and not forcing things."
LSU's LaSondra Barrett has raised her scoring average to 11.7 points per game following her first double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds at Ole Miss. Sophomore guard Jeanne Kenney leads LSU in assists and ranks eighth in the SEC with 3.9 per contest.
The Lady Tigers have dominated the series with Mississippi State 41-6 and has won the last three games in the series, including a 72-55 victory in the only meeting between the two teams last year in Starkville. Adrienne Webb had 26 in the win, burying 10-of-20 from the floor.
Following Thursday's game, LSU returns to Baton Rouge for its SEC home opener against Alabama at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Lady Tigers look for 2-0 start in SEC play
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