Gunter, Lady Tigers react to West seeding

The suspense finally came to an end Sunday for the LSU Lady Tigers after a week of anticipation.<br><br>After claiming the SEC Tournament title with a 78-62 win over Tennessee, LSU coach Sue Gunter and her team were forced to wait a week before finding out if they would receive a national No. 1 seed.

In a celebration of unprecedented proportions for LSU women's basketball, over 400 fans joined Gunter and her team as LSU was dubbed the top seed in the West region to be held in Eugene, Oregon.

ESPN was on hand to catch LSU's live response to the announcement made on the sports network at 4 p.m. Sunday. The Lady Tigers joined Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee as the nation's top seeds in the women's NCAA Tournament.

Gunter was excited about her team getting the top spot in the region. However, the decision to send LSU out west and placing them in such a tough bracket did draw some comments from the veteran coach.

"Could they have found a tougher bracket to put us in?" Gunter asked rhetorically. "We are happy to have gotten the top seed. When you get to this point, everybody is good. But I don't have any idea why they do that."

The Lady Tigers (27-3) are set to meet Southwest Texas State in Eugene this weekend. LSU already owns a victory this season over the Lady Bobcats this season, a 91-40 thrashing in the Maravich Assembly Center on Dec. 21. Gunter said having played Southwest Texas (18-13) is a plus for both teams.

"It is an advantage that we have played them already," Gunter said. "But it is an advantage for both teams."

The mood of the room was one of excitement as the Lady Tigers got the national nod. However, the fact LSU must travel to Eugene, Ore., for the first two rounds then to Stanford for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 put a slight damper on the afternoon.

Gunter and her team are just pleased to be in the position they are in and will take it one game as a time.

"It doesn't worry me at all," Gunter said. "It is a totally neutral site. It is just a long plane ride, that's all."

Although no 16-seed has ever beaten a No. 1 team, the Lady Tigers are still focusing heavily on Southwest Texas.

"We can't worry about anything right now," junior guard Temeka Johnson said. "All we can do is concentrate on Southwest Texas."

Senior forward Aiysha Smith knows the road ahead is a tough one.

"It is just like the SEC, every game is a tough one," Smith said.

Every game will be a tough one as six teams in the West Region are currently ranked in the top 25, four in the top 10. LSU finished the season rankled No. 3 in all national polls. Texas (21-5) finished ranked fifth while Louisiana Tech (26-2) ranked eighth and Stanford (26-4) was tenth.

Other ranked teams in the west include No. 17 Minnesota (23-5) and 25th-ranked Arkansas (21-10).

Gunter said she is happy the way her team is currently playing and knows the Lady Tigers must be on top of their game when they set off for Oregon later this week. Some national opinions say LSU is a favorite to play for national title.

"We are playing very well right now," Gunter said. "But it is all hype at this point. I don't take things like that in any particular way. I hate to downplay it like that. It is a nice compliment, but talk is cheap."

Talk may be cheap, but the Lady Tigers have been doing their talking on the floor. After losing their regular season finale at Vanderbilt, LSU went to North Little Rock and knocked off the three teams in the SEC Tournament that had defeated them during the regular season. The LSU ladies beat Arkansas, Vanderbilt and finally blew out SEC regular season champ Tennessee claiming the tournament title.

The Lady Tigers finished third in all major polls but ranks fourth in all power rating systems.

The path lying ahead for Gunter's team includes a possible meeting with Washington (22-7) in the second round. When the tournament shifts to Stanford in the Sweet 16, LSU could possibly face in-state foe Louisiana Tech, who received a fifth seed.

On the bottom half of the bracket, one would have to think the Lady Tigers would face host Stanford in the Elite 8.

Quickly previewing LSU's first round opponent, the Lady Tigers had no problems with the Lady Bobcats on Dec. 21 in Baton Rouge, running away with a 51-point victory in the PMAC. However, Southwest Texas compiled a 14-6 record in the Southland Conference winning the tournament title with a 68-56 win over Texas-San Antonio.

The Lady Bobcats are led by Tori Talbert, who scores 15.9 point per game going along with 12.1 boards in 27.9 minutes of work each game.

Just to recap some of the Lady Tigers accomplishments this season, LSU ranked 19th in the nation in attendance averaging 4,496 fans per game.

Three games played by Gunter's club ranked in the top 50 best attended games this season, including LSU's 68-65 loss to Tennessee in the PMAC on February 23 (15,217 paid). It ranked 13th overall.

Also included were games at Arkansas on January 19 (11,486) and a home win over Penn State on January 4 (11,252).

The Lady Tigers ranked first in the SEC in assists per game with 19.4 per game, second in field goal percentage (48.7-percent) and second in free throw shooting (73.9-percent). LSU is third in scoring offense (76.4 points per game) and second in scoring defense (57 ppg).

They are also second in scoring margin (+19.4), first in turnover margin (+6.07) and first in assist to turnover ratio (1.39).

LSU's 19.4 assists per game is also the best in the nation and the Lady Tigers are fourth in winning percentage (90-percent).


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