LSU, Georgia women focused on improvement _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU coach Nikki Fargas wants to get her team pointed in the right direction, both on and off the court, as early as possible.

Between them, LSU and Georgia own two of the most impressive trophy cases in all of women’s basketball: a combined 10 Final Four appearances, 10 Southeastern Conference regular-season championships and six SEC tournament titles.

Neither the Lady Tigers nor the Lady Bulldogs are likely to add to their glittering collections this year, however. This season, like Sunday’s game, is about improvement.

And survival.

Tip off is set for 1 p.m. CST between LSU and Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens. The game can be seen online on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN and heard in Baton Rouge on WBRP-FM 107.3 or in the Geaux Zone at LSUSports.net.

LSU is suffering through one of the worst stretches in program history.

Saddled with crippling personnel issues, the Lady Tigers dropped to 7-12 overall and 1-5 in SEC play Thursday with a 48-44 loss at home to Arkansas.

LSU has lost eight of nine, its worst skid since 1994-95, and in those games has scored 45 points or less seven times. The Lady Tigers sit both at the bottom of the SEC standings and are last in the conference in scoring with a meager 54.9 points per game.

Since June, LSU has lost to injury or dismissed three players and against Arkansas was without two more players: sophomore guard Jenna Deemer (illness), the Lady Tigers’ top 3-point shooter, and reserve forward Ann Jones (ankle).

LSU put only six players on the court against Arkansas. Correctly anticipating Deemer and Jones will not play at Georgia, coach Nikki Fargas said the Lady Tigers will bring a walk-on player, Kayle Lee, with them to Athens.

“Our focus is going to be simple,” Fargas said. “It’s on us. We’re going to watch us. How we need to be better offensively, the play action we need to run, how we need to get better at the free-throw line.

“We’re asking players to step up in some roles they originally weren’t asked to be in.”

Without Deemer (10.1 points per game), LSU will try to prop up its sagging offense with the twin pillars of forwards Alexis Hyder (10.3 points, 7.8 rebounds per game) and Akilah Bethel (8.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg). Both recorded double-doubles against Arkansas, Hyder with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Bethel with 10 and 11.

Georgia (14-5, 2-4 SEC) is in its first year under coach Joni Taylor, the successor to legendary coach Andy Landers. He retired last year after 36 seasons and 862 wins in Athens.

Tiaria Griffin, a 5-foot-7 senior guard, leads the Lady Bulldogs with 14.0 points per game, while 5-10 senior guard/forward Shacobia Barbee tops the team with 9.5 rebounds to go with 12.4 points per game.

LSU travels on to Missouri on Thursday before returning home Feb. 1 to host Auburn.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.