The LSU women’s basketball team is finally getting healthier.
After playing the bulk of their Southeastern Conference schedule with a depleted roster, the Lady Tigers will return sophomore guard Jenna Deemer and senior forward Ann Jones when they take on No. 12 Texas A&M at 8 p.m. Thursday in College Station, Texas. Deemer sat out nine games with an undisclosed illness; Jones missed seven contests because of an ankle injury.
In their absence LSU (8-17, 2-10) rotated only six or seven players whose long stretches on the floor resulted in fatigue and numerous second-half meltdowns.
“I know their wind is not going to be there and they’re going to need some rest and some breathers during the course of the game,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said of Deemer and Jones. “But to have the option to go to previous starters will mentally allow the six or seven that have been going the whole game during conference play to have some relief that we have a sub coming in.”
Deemer is the Lady Tigers’ lone 3-point threat at a rate of almost 39 percent from beyond the arc. At 6-foot-3, Jones gives LSU another big body plus 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
The Lady Tigers will need all the help they can get against the Aggies (18-7, 8-4), who won the teams’ first meeting 53-35 on Jan. 10. LSU shot only 26.5 percent from the field and had its lowest point total of the season.
But the Lady Tigers led 19-15 at halftime before Texas A&M pulled away behind a 13-0 run out of the break.
“Putting together back-to-back halves is going to be key for us,” Fargas said. “Offensively, they have everybody capable of scoring from both the inside and the outside so we’re going to have to take away the paint points. They score a lot of baskets inside, and we’re going to have to be very diligent in our effort to eliminate a lot of those easy touches.”
Senior guard Courtney Walker, the SEC’s top scorer, led the Aggies with 21 points in their first matchup against LSU. Classmate Courtney Williams, who didn’t play in the original meeting, complements Walker with 12.3 points per game.
Junior forward Alexis Hyder paces the Lady Tigers with 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest. She was the only player to score in double figures against Texas A&M earlier this year, providing 14 points in 24 minutes.
Fargas was pleased with her team’s defensive performance against the Aggies, but she knows it has to pick up the slack on offense.
“Offensively, there is a small margin of error,” the coach said. “We have to have everything go our way. We have to make the layups. We have to make the free throws to get ourselves to the 60s because 35 points in the SEC is not going to cut it.”