At least no one can say the LSU women’s basketball team has been ducking anybody.
The Lady Tigers’ nonconference strength of schedule ranked in the top five among the 14 Southeastern Conference teams, featuring a game at No. 1-ranked Connecticut.
It was a meatgrinder, as talent-challenged LSU’s record can attest. The Lady Tigers, who have lost two All-SEC guards and their top freshman since the summer, are 6-7 entering Sunday’s SEC opener at Alabama, with an RPI that has slipped to No. 132.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. in Tuscaloosa. The game will be shown on the SEC Network and can be heard locally on WBRP-FM 107.3 and in the Geaux Zone at LSUSports.net.
LSU is looking for a reboot to its season, but positives will be hard to come by. The Lady Tigers are coming off a 47-44 loss at home to Samford in which LSU shot only 33 percent from the field.
“We see this as a new start,” senior guard Anne Pedersen said. “One season is over and one season is starting with league play. Obviously, we don’t forget what happened earlier in the year, but we have to move forward and have a refreshed mindset and go into SEC with a different mentality.”
LSU is last in the SEC, averaging just 58.2 points per game, making the points of emphasis on other aspects of the Lady Tigers’ game even more critical.
“When the ball’s not bouncing your way, every coach in America will tell you that you have to be able to defend and rebound the basketball,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “At Alabama, that is going to be key. Alabama’s keys will probably be similar because they like to press and run off of your turnovers. Taking care of the basketball and not allowing them to have those easy points out of the transition game will be very important.”
Sophomore guard Jenna Deemer continues to lead LSU in scoring with 10.3 points per game but has struggled offensively of late, going a combined 1-of-16 from the field against UConn and Samford. Deemer remains LSU’s top outside scoring threat, however, having made 24 of the Lady Tigers’ 33 3-point shots.
Junior forward Alexis Hyder leads LSU with 7.9 rebounds per game, with three double-doubles and four double-figure rebounding games,. She has hauled in 10 or more rebounds in four games, and totals three double-doubles this season.
Alabama is 11-2 this season, 9-0 in tiny 3,800-seat Foster Auditorium, but only carries an RPI of 144 because of a much lighter non-conference schedule than LSU’s.
Sophomore guard Hannah Cook leads Alabama with 13.5 points per game, having made a team-best 34 3-pointers. Meoshonti Knight, a sophomore guard from Morgan City, has started all 13 games for the Crimson Tide and is third on the team with 9.8 points per game.
LSU returns home Thursday to host Ole Miss at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.