January 2, 2011
Maravich Center, Baton Rouge, LA
TV: SEC Network / ESPN3
Internet Audio: Lady Vols Network
Live Stats: GameCast
Conference play begins at Red Stick against Tennessee's traditional SEC rival. Roster information and some info follows after the jump.
Of LSU's four losses, one was a close match against #12/13 Ohio State and another was against UConn. They're not a bad team at all, even if they're not ranked at the moment. The starting roster is a bit smaller than is customary for LSU, but they do have height on the bench: freshmen Theresa Plaisance (6'-5") and Shanece McKinney (6'-4") each average about 6 minutes a game, while 6'-3" junior Swayze Black gets about 10 minutes in relief duty. That gives Tennessee a definite height advantage, but not so dominant as to completely overwhelm as is often the case against smaller schools. However, having your height represented by freshmen is a bit of a scary prospect, and LSU will need them at their sharpest to keep up with the increasingly capable rotation of redwoods that Summitt will roll out.
LSU's best advantage is experience and continuity; all of their projected starters have started every game they played (Barrett missed one). It's a team that hasn't had to tinker with its lineup, so the players should understand each other well when the starters are on the floor. That continuity has resulted in over 200 assists on the year despite not being a high-scoring squad. They're a defense first team, averaging only 65 points a game and holding opponents to 52. If they fall behind to the Lady Vols, they will have to find a consistent scoring threat to catch up; if they get a solid lead, they can slow the pace down and lean on defense.
The talent at LSU isn't at their normal levels, and it's not at Tennessee's level. LSU, however, is not prone to mistakes. They don't get in foul trouble and they don't get careless with the ball. Tennessee will have to beat them straight-up to open conference play with a win, and to help us forget the pain of the last two Tennessee games (not Lady Vols games).