Lady Tigers ready to open SEC Tourney

DULUTH, Ga. – LSU's 11th-ranked women's basketball team opens the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday at 6 p.m. CST in the Gwinett Center as the No. 4 seed.

The Lady Tigers (24-6, 10-4 SEC) earned a first-round bye by finishing the regular season in a third-place tie with Vanderbilt in the conference. LSU will face either 12th-seeded Alabama or No. 5 seeded Ole Miss in the second round.  

"We welcome the challenge that both possible opponents bring to the table," LSU head coach Pokey Chatman said. "We are just happy that we have Thursday to sit back and relax and wait to see who we play."

LSU is coming off a 70-27 victory over Alabama at home that ended the regular season, but the Lady Tigers have dropped three of the last five games, including losses at Vanderbilt and to Tennessee.

In those last five games, LSU was without the services of starting forward Ashley Thomas. Thomas suffered a knee injury in the first half of the Feb. 11 game against Connecticut. The 6-0 junior from Stone Mountain, Ga., has practiced the last few days and is expected to be available for the SEC Tournament.

First-team All-SEC selection Sylvia Fowles leads LSU into the tournament. The 6-6 junior center averaged 17.4 points and a league-best 12.7 rebounds in LSU's 30 regular season games. Fowles has also recorded a double double in 17 straight games, including all 14 conference outings.

Second-team All-SEC selection Quianna Chaney averaged 12.4 points per game in the regular season, while junior point guard Erica White enters the post season having averaged 7.7 points and 4.3 assists per game.

LSU enters this year's SEC Tournament with a 23-25 record in the previous 27 appearances. The Lady Tigers won the title in 1991 and 2003 and have reached the championship games in each of the last two years.

This year's tournament is in the Gwinett Center in Duluth, Ga., for the first time. The tournament returns to Georgia for the first time since 1992, the final year of a seven year run in Albany. The 1984 tournament was also held in the Peachtree state in Athens.

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