After a four-game road swing, the LSU Lady Tigers return Sunday for their first home game in three weeks, their first chance to show off their new inside-outside duo of junior forward Theresa Plaisance and freshman guard Danielle Ballard.
Short on experienced tall players inside, for the LSU Lady Tigers to have success this season, they needed to have a strong season from junior forward Theresa Plaisance. She’s done that so far, leading LSU with 15.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game going into Sunday’s 2 p.m. contest with North Carolina State.
“Theresa has been playing some of her best basketball,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said.
A highly decorated recruit with huge expectations, Ballard still had to play well enough to crack the experienced backcourt of Adrienne Webb, Jeanne Kenney and Bianca Lutley.
In the FIU Thanksgiving Classic last weekend in Miami, Ballard’s game sparkled. She averaged 19 points in the Lady Tigers two wins there, including a season-high 25 in LSU’s 71-63 win over then-No. 12 West Virginia.
“There’s such an upside to her,” Caldwell said. “She’s shown she’s a player who can play in big games and put a team on her back, and she’s still fairly young. There’s still a lot of room for growth.”
One freshman who will not play for LSU is former Helen Cox standout Coco Baker. Baker has yet to play in a regular season game for LSU because of a suspension for violation of unspecified team rules. Caldwell said there is no timetable for Baker’s availability.
The Lady Tigers hung on to beat Wichita State 72-70 in their season and home opener on Nov. 11. The game was a matchup between Caldwell and her former Tennessee teammate, Jody Adams.
This game will mark another Tennessee reunion of sorts. NC State is coached by former Lady Vol Kellie Jolly Harper, in her fourth season in Raleigh.
“She knows how to win,” Caldwell said of Jolly. “She won as a player and has been very successful at North Carolina State. They’re a team that loves to get out in transition, and that transition game is going to be a key for us.”
The Wolfpack started 5-1 but is coming off back-to-back losses to Northern Iowa (76-72) and Michigan State (68-51). NC State is led by 6-foot-2 junior forward Kody Burke, who averages 16.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
LSU will celebrate its 800th all-time victory Sunday with a ticket special: two for $8 on the 200 and 300 levels of the PMAC. Sunday is also “Dads and Daughters Day,” with an LSU backdrop available for photos from 1-1:45 p.m.
Fans can also receive a deck of LSU playing cards upon entering the arena.
The game will be televised on CST and can be heard locally on 107.3 FM. … Caldwell will be going for her 99th career win as a head coach. She is 26-13 in her second season at LSU and was 72-26 in three seasons at UCLA. … This is the first-ever meeting between LSU and NC State.