The LSU women’s basketball team has shown signs of coming together offensively through four Southeastern Conference games but the pieces have not quite fallen into place.
Thursday would be an opportune time for that to happen with No. 7 Texas A&M coming for a 6 p.m. game at the Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU (5-5, 2-2 SEC) is coming off a heartbreaking 64-63 loss to Tennessee on Sunday in which a potential game-winning shot with one second left didn’t go. Coach Nikki Fargas is happy with the emergence of players such as Tiara Young and Karli Seay, but a late-game lull — five consecutive missed shots — short-circuited a chance for LSU to score a needed victory.
New offensive coordinator Jake Peetz hasn’t known LSU's quarterbacks long, but during his introductory press conference Wednesday, he provided an initial assessment of the group.
“The last three games Pointer, Young and Seay shoot 50 (percent) or better,” Fargas said. “They have to get more attempts. We had seven more than Tennessee. We’ve been averaging 10 more than our opponents. We have to be strategic on who is taking those shots. The numbers don’t lie.”
Young has been a big part of the offensive improvement. She has made 20 of 40 field goal attempts and is averaging 11.0 points in SEC play.
“I’ve built up my confidence in the offense and putting up more shots,” Young said. “I’m more comfortable, me and Khayla are roommates on the road and we talk a lot. She gives me a lot of advice on leading the team.”
Fargas also needs a more consistent effort from 6-foot-5 post player Faustine Aifuwa, who played only 21 minutes because of four trouble. Her limited playing time helped Tennessee gain a 39-25 rebounding edge. Aifuwa, who is averaging 11.1 points per game, had eight points on 3-of-8 shooting.
In the Tigers' second and third SEC games of the four they've played, Aifuwa was 5 for 18, bookended by two games in which she was 16 for 30. On Sunday, she struggled to get position against a Tennessee team that featured all five starters 6-0 or taller.
“We harp on the fact she’s our best post player, best scorer on the block when she is in great position,” Fargas said. “She’s catching the ball in a very difficult space on the floor, too flat along the baseline. The angle of her trying to power up, not a lot of people are going to make that shot. We will keep reminding her position, know where you are on the floor.”
LSU will need Aifuwa to stay in the game against A&M (12-0, 3-0), which boasts two strong inside players in 6-2 N’dea Jones and 6-4 Ciera Johnson. Jones is averaging 13.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while Johnson is at 11.3 and 7.9
Aaliyah Wilson gives the Aggies one of the top outside threats in the SEC. She leads the team with a 15.0 scoring average and has 25 steals.
“A&M has size and athleticism, and perimeter players that can play multiple layers,” Fargas said. “They’ve been around a long time, have experience and know how to win. We believe in our matchup (defense) and will still run it. This game I about controlling the tempo and pace of the game.”