Lady Tigers aim for Elite 8

SEATTLE -- For the second time in as many seasons, LSU and Texas traveled to the West coast to face off in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. The fourth-seeded Lady Tigers (24-7) and top-seeded Longhorns (30-4) meet on ESPN at 8 p.m. CST on Saturday at the Bank of America Arena on the campus of the University of Washington.

LSU arrived on Thursday evening and practiced for the first time in Seattle at 1 p.m. PST on Friday. The team will have a walk-through on Saturday before the 6 p.m. local time start. Second-seeded Purdue and third-seeded Georgia will dual in the nightcap at 8:30 p.m. PST.

With both LSU and Texas coming off impressive performances on their home courts in the first and second rounds of the tournament, the comparisons to last season's regional final contest were obvious. No.-2 seed Texas struggled early before handily defeating No. 1-seed LSU, 78-60, in Palo Alto, Calif., on April 1, 2003.

The Lady Tigers return three of five starters from last season's Elite Eight team, while Texas lost only guard Tai Dillard from the Final Four team that lost to eventual national champion Connecticut.

LSU sophomore All-American Seimone Augustus leads the Lady Tigers, scoring 18.9 points per game and grabbing 5.9 rebounds.

Augustus scored 21 and 26 points, respectively, in first and second-round wins over No. 13-seeded Austin Peay and No. 12-seeded Maryland. She has made 22-of-35 shots in the NCAA tournament this season, but was held in check (eight points on 4-of-11 shooting) during the season-ending loss to the Longhorns in 2002-03.

"Seimone is a year older, she's a better player, a more experienced player," Texas head coach Jody Conradt said. "But to put all of your efforts into defending one player usually doesn't work out very well. We need to limit touches and we need to eliminate penetration as much as we can. We cannot keep her from scoring points, she's too good."

Acting head coach Pokey Chatman guided the Lady Tigers to the school's eighth Sweet 16, as the 13-year assistant at LSU has taken the reins from head coach Sue Gunter since early January.

"Kids competing at this level understand what difference a year makes," Chatman said. "In terms of that Texas lost: nothing; what they gained: Tiffany Jackson. They remind me of our team last year -- experience at a lot of positions, (with) a freshman phenom. They understand the level that we are competing at. They are really intent and focused on the task at hand."

All-Southeastern Conference point guard Temeka Johnson, who had nine points and seven assists in the NCAA loss to Texas, is the catalyst in the LSU offense. Johnson ranks third nationally in assists per game at 8.2 while scoring 12.9 points per game.

"Everybody keeps talking about last year's team and how we lost to them," the 5-3 New Orleans native said about Texas, "But we have a different team with a different style of play. We lost a lot of players from last year. We're excited to be playing Texas again, but only because we're both two good teams that advanced to the Sweet 16."

Texas will look to its emotional leader, All-Big 12 junior guard Jamie Carey, to guide the Longhorns back to the Final Four. Carey, who started but scored only four points in 39 minutes in the 2003 NCAA meeting with the Lady Tigers, runs an offense that outscores its opponents by 17.1 points per contest this season.

"The closer that you get to the Final Four, the harder it gets for us," Carey said in Friday's pre-game press conference. "The stakes are higher and the team play a little more intense in every single game. It is not going to be any different for us tomorrow night. We are just going to go out and treat it like any other game."

Texas' 6-2 junior forward Heather Schreiber along with All-American senior Stacey Stephens scored 32 and 14 points, respectively, in their last meeting with LSU, while ranking second and third on their team in scoring this season.

Jackson, a National Freshman of the Year candidate, leads the Longhorns with 13.0 points per game and ranks second on the team with 7.6 rebounds.

Should the Lady Tigers get past Texas and into their second-straight regional final, they would face the Purdue-Georgia winner at 8 p.m. CST on Monday on ESPN.

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