The next opponent for No. 12 LSU women’s basketball comes to town with a bit of a split personality, but Tigers coach Kim Mulkey admits one aspect of it “scares you to death.”
Unranked Missouri, the only team to beat No. 1 South Carolina, steps in against LSU at 7 p.m. Thursday in Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU (15-2, 3-1 in SEC) is up against a Missouri team that scored the season’s biggest upset minus its best player and the nation’s leading rebounder, Aijha Blackwell. Additionally, Missouri was missing five other players because of COVID-19 protocols but won in overtime on a buzzer-beating layup by Lauren Hansen.
“They beat South Carolina without their leading scorer,” Mulkey said. “That scares you to death when you see that. When you break down film you see they didn’t do anything they don’t normally do. They hit timely 3s and were playing at home.
“You’ve got to score with South Carolina and rebound with South Carolina, and they did it that night,” she added.
Missouri (13-3, 2-1) also took No. 14 Baylor to the wire in a 70-68 loss. But it has shown another side, losing by 28 points to Missouri State, a team LSU has beaten, and going to overtime before subduing Auburn, a team LSU beat by 28 Sunday. Missouri lost 83-73 to Arkansas on Sunday.
The visitors are all the more dangerous because in addition to Blackwell, who averages 16.6 points and 12.9 rebounds per game, they lead the SEC in field goal percentage (47.7) and are second in 3-point percentage (37.2) and 3-pointers made (127).
“She’s a double-double for them,” Mulkey said of Blackwell. “We have to know where she is, her tendencies, her moves. She rebounds a lot of her own misses. That’s what good players do.”
Hayley Frank is averaging 14.7 points and Hansen 10.5. That duo has combined to make 53 of 129 treys. Mulkey said Missouri can be a difficult matchup because so many on the roster shoot 3-pointers.
LSU can counterpunch with a team that is second in the SEC with a 46.2 field goal percentage and the No. 3 team in points allowed per game (55.5). Khayla Pointer continues to shine as one of the nation’s top players with an 18.1 scoring average and 6.8 rebounds per game. Her 5.3 assists average is fifth in the nation and second in the SEC.
LSU had a strong response to its 66-60 loss to South Carolina by jumping on Auburn for a 26-8 lead in the first quarter Sunday. Its 20.1 scoring margin leads the SEC, but defending Missouri will be the key.
“We have to stay disciplined on defense,” said LSU guard Alexis Morris, who averages 14.1 points per game. “Stay on the floor because you know they shoot a lot of 3s, they get up a lot of shots, a lot of extra movements, shot fakes, ball fakes. . . (we have to) stick to our principles and stop dribble penetration. That’s a big one, so they can’t find open people.”