Amid the frenzied buildup to Saturday’s football showdown across the street comes a little taste of March Madness on Thursday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The LSU women’s baskeball team opens a brief two-game exhibition schedule when it hosts Xavier of New Orleans. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Coming off a 23-11 season that saw LSU reach the second round of the NCAA tournament, the Lady Tigers look to replace All-Southeastern Conference forward LaSondra Barrett and five other players who left the program.
Second-year coach Nikki Caldwell is expected to start a three-guard lineup featuring seniors Adrienne Webb and Bianca Lutley in the backcourt with junior Jeanne Kenney.
Juniors Theresa Plaisance and Shanece McKinney, 6-foot-5 and 6-4, respectively, will start at the forward spots.
Webb is LSU’s leading returning scorer with 9.9 points per game last season. Lutley is expected to start at point, allowing Kenney to return to her more natural position of off guard.
Kenney was forced to run the point much of last season after a mid-year injury to then senior Destini Hughes.
“I’m looking for our guard play to really lead the attack,” Caldwell said. “Adrienne and Jeanne and Bianca, our three returning starters, are going to have to set the tone for us.
“My coaching staff and I have really been challenging our post players to step up. We need Theresa to be that go-to player we can count on to score (inside) and to utilize her face-up game.”
Caldwell said her team will be playing with a “short bench” as three of her five reserves will be held out of this game for violating unspecified team policies.
Caldwell declined to name the three who would not play, but said the suspensions are for this game only.
“There are lessons to be learned,” Caldwell said. “They have learned, we have moved forward from it and they will continue to grow as people.”
This will mark the second straight year LSU and Xavier have played in an exhibition game. The Lady Tigers rolled to a 102-42 victory over the Gold Nuggets last year.
LSU will also host North Alabama in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Admission is free for both contests, with doors to the PMAC opening one hour before tipoff.
The Lady Tigers begin the regular season Nov. 11 with a 2 p.m. contest against Wichita State. LSU then embarks on a four-game road trip and won’t return home until Dec. 2 against North Carolina State.
The game can be heard live on KLSU-FM (91.1). There will also be live streaming video for subscribers in the Geaux Zone section of LSUSports.net. … Former LSU and U.S. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones will be recognized at halftime as part of the launch for her foundation “Hurdles of Hope,” which seeks to aid families with incarcerated loved ones. … LSU will once again host first- and second-round games in the NCAA women’s tournament, March 24 and 26 at the PMAC..