LSU will line up against Mississippi State in what will be the final game of the regular season, and perhaps the last in the career of one of its best players.
Khayla Pointer is one of six seniors suiting up in the Maravich Assembly Center when the Lady Tigers play host to Mississippi State at 6 p.m. in front of another sparse, COVID-19 pandemic depleted crowd.
The quieter crowds are in stark contrast to the way Pointer has played and excelled in the past four seasons, playing hard on both ends of the court with her signature drives to the hoop often resulting in baskets, assists or free throws.
“It’s bittersweet; it seems like I was just playing my first game in the PMAC,” said Pointer, who chose LSU largely because her aunt, Nikki Fargas is the coach. “I’m trying to make the most of the moment but I’m not treating it any different than I would my first. Time went by really fast. It’s crazy how people will tell you college goes fast and four years flies by. I remember last year ended abruptly and I thought, ‘Wow, I’m a senior now.’
“I was very, very blessed to be in the situation I’m in. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I’m happy I was able to play LSU basketball.”
Other seniors include Faustine Aifuwa, Jailin Cherry, Awa Trasi, Rakell Spencer and Karli Seay.
Pointer and her fellow seniors have an option to stay with the NCAA having granted athletes a waiver on this season against their eligibility. Pointer said she will make that decision after the season, although she seems ready to move on to the WNBA.
Pointer became the 24th LSU player to score 1,000 points earlier this season and is No. 23 all time with 1,249 and a chance to move up a couple of spots. She’s tied for seventh in assists all time with LeNette Caldwell at 420, needing 11 to break into the top 5. Her 181 steals is 15 shy of the top 10. And her 350 career rebound total is impressive for anyone who is 5-feet-7.
“Khayla is a joy to coach,” said Fargas. “It doesn’t take much. She’s motivated, she starts her own engine. She’s a student of the game and it comes easy to her. She’s shown she’s one of the best players in the country. Other coaches in our league always tell me how difficult it is to guard her.
She carries a lot of the responsibility for our team, not only scoring but distributing. She’s helped other teammates step into their own light.”
At times she’s carried the team, especially in the last two seasons. Pointer is averaging 16.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.4 steals. She has scored 24 points or more in three of the last five games.
LSU will be facing a Mississippi State team that is not quite the juggernaut from recent years. The Bulldogs are 9-7 and 4-6 in the SEC, one spot below LSU in the standings.
Rickea Jackson, a 6-2 perimeter player, leads State with a 16.1 scoring average and gets 5.0 rebounds per game. In the post is 6-5 Jessika Carter averaging 14.9 points and 9.1 rebounds.
“Jackson who is a phenomenal player,” Fargas said. “She can score from many layers, a 6-2 guard in that Ryne Howard-Rennia Davis family. Jessika Carter has extended her range and is a cleanup woman on the offensive boards. They also have a supporting cast that that have given them balanced attack.”