Honors for Lady Tigers

The LSU women's basketball team has earned a No. 9 national ranking in the Sporting News' Preseason Top 25 poll, while senior guard Allison Hightower has been selected as a first-team All-American in the publication's preseason yearbook which hit newsstands this week.

LSU is the highest ranked Southeastern Conference team in the poll. Tennessee comes in at No. 12 and Mississippi State is ranked No. 21. Connecticut, the defending national champion, is the unanimous preseason No. 1. Stanford, Ohio State, North Carolina and Duke round out the top five.

The publication said of the Lady Tigers, “LSU lost only one key member of last year’s team, Kristen Morris. Led by All-America candidate Allison Hightower, the Lady Tigers are the sort of opponent no one wants to see come March. … Once again the Lady Tigers will be among the toughest defensive squads around.”

Hightower is the only SEC player on the preseason All-America first team. She joins the likes of Connecticut’s Tina Charles and Maya Moore and Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender on the 10-member squad.

Hightower was without question LSU’s most valuable player a season ago as the Lady Tigers advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual national championship game participant Louisville. She led LSU in six categories, posted 14.9 points per game and became the first player in school history to lead the Lady Tigers in points, assists, steals and blocks in a single season.

Hightower, a native of Arlington, Texas, earned first-team All-SEC honors by the coaches and the media, and she was selected as a 2009 State Farm Coaches’ Honorable Mention All-American. She heads into a new season as a 2010 National Player of the Year candidate on watch lists for the Wade Trophy and John Wooden Award.

The Lady Tigers return four starters and nine letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished 19-11 overall and 10-4 in SEC play while earning a share of second place in the final league standings. LSU has led the SEC in scoring defense the past five seasons and held opponents to just 53.5 points per game in 2008-09.

LSU faces four teams in the Sporting News Top 25, including No. 12 Tennessee twice. The Lady Tigers host the Lady Vols on Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. CT in a game that will be televised by ESPNU. LSU returns to the trip to Knoxville on Feb. 22. The special 6 p.m. CT “Big Monday” tip will be carried by ESPN2.

LSU travels to face No. 13 Xavier on Dec. 30 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Musketeers feature Sporting News preseason All-American Ta’Shia Phillips, who posted a double-double with 13.9 points and 12.1 boards per contest.

No. 21 Mississippi State visits the Maravich Center in the home finale on Feb. 28. No. 23 Middle Tennessee will be an early season test at home on Nov. 18. The Blue Raiders return preseason second-team All-America selection Alysha Clark, who led the nation in scoring with 27.5 points per contest.

LSU begins practice on Friday, Oct. 16. The Lady Tigers play host to Centenary in the season-opener on Nov. 15.

Season tickets for LSU women’s basketball go on sale Thursday, Oct. 1 at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office located on the first floor of the Athletics Administration Building. Tickets can also be purchased online at LSUsports.net or by calling 1-800-960-TKTS or 225-578-2184.

Season tickets range from $95-$125 with lower level and middle level seating available in the Maravich Center.

Sporting News Preseason Top 25
1. Connecticut
2. Stanford
3. Ohio State
4. North Carolina
5. Duke
6. Notre Dame
7. Oklahoma
8. Virginia
9. LSU
10. Baylor
11. Michigan State
12. Tennessee
13. Xavier
14. Florida State
15. Georgia Tech
16. Arizona State
17. Texas
18. DePaul
19. Maryland
20. California
21. Mississippi State
22. San Diego State
23. Middle Tennessee
24. Marist
25. Boston College

Sporting News Preseason All-America Team (First Team)
Player                         Class   Team
Jayne Appel                Sr.        Stanford
Jessica Breland            Sr.        North Carolina
Tina Charles                Sr.        Connecticut
Allison Hightower     Sr.       LSU
Jantel Lavender           Jr.        Ohio State
Maya Moore                Jr.        Connecticut
Ta’Shia Phillips           Jr.        Xavier
Andrea Riley               Jr.        Oklahoma State
Danielle Robinson       Jr.        Oklahoma
Monica Wright            Sr.        Virginia

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