The LSU Lady Tigers won Friday at Missouri despite …
- An unprecedented snow delay.
- Losing a player for the season to illness.
- Losing a player during the game to illness.
- Having a backup guard suspended and not make the trip.
- Having a starting guard play through the personal loss of a family member.
“This team is resilient,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said Saturday. “That’s one thing about us.
“Even all year though our record didn’t reflect it we’ve been in every ballgame. We’ve been able to do some amazing things, not always for 40 minutes, but for 35 or 36.”
Against No. 8 Kentucky on Sunday, LSU will probably have to play the full 40.
The question is, after a less than 48-hour, blizzard-inspired turnaround, will the short-handed Lady Tigers have enough left in the tank to pull off the season’s biggest signature win?
Senior guard Adrienne Webb said her team has no other choice.
“The only thing you can do is rise to the occasion,” Webb said. “You have to put the past behind you and move on to the next phase.”
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center between LSU (16-10, 7-6 Southeastern Conference) and Kentucky (22-3, 11-2).
The game will not be televised but will be heard over the entire LSU Sports Radio Network (locally on 107.3 FM).
LSU has had its challenges before this season, such as the week in which it played three consecutive home games against ranked opponents: Texas A&M, Tennessee and Georgia. LSU won only the latter, upsetting then No. 9 Georgia 62-54.
Since then LSU added road wins at Mississippi State (63-41) and Mizzou (78-74 in overtime), moving into a tie for sixth in the SEC with Vanderbilt (17-9, 7-6).
“We had a tough week with A&M, Tennessee and Georgia, so this will be just another situation we have to go into,” she said.
“We’ve got to play the game. There’s no changing it. We can’t control the weather and what happens. We’re looking at this as another opportunity to compete in front of a great crowd. It’s going to be a great game.”
At least no one on the LSU roster can say they don’t have a great chance to play.
The Lady Tigers will dress out only eight players for the second straight game.
Sophomore reserve forward Sheila Boykin will sit out the rest of the season after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, and freshman backup guard Coco Baker of Helen Cox remains suspended.
Sophomore guard Anne Pedersen is expected to play after sitting out the second half and overtime against Missouri because of an attack of bronchitis.
Junior starting point guard Jeanne Kenney is expected to play despite being typically battered and bruised — and suffering from a heavy heart.
Kenney’s grandfather died last week.
The funeral was Friday and had the Missouri game not been postponed a day by a severe winter storm she would have been back in time to attend the services.
Caldwell said she tried to get Kenney home, but too many roads and airports were closed to make that possible. Kenney gamely played 35 minutes anyway, scoring three points with three assists and five rebounds.
“She would tell you her grandpa would have wanted her right where she was,” Caldwell said.
“Jeanne just came out and played with such courage. We again appreciate her being that leader for us.”
Kenney didn’t practice with the team Saturday, instead spending time with her family.
“Jeanne is our rock,” Webb said.
“Our job is to make sure she’s mentally there and that we can pick her up if something happens.”
Theresa Plaisance, LSU’s 6-foot-5 forward, lost her SEC scoring lead to Tennessee’s Meighan Simmons despite scoring 21 at Mizzou to raise her season average to 17.7 (Simmons is at 17.8).
Plaisance is seventh in rebounding (7.9 per game) and first in blocked shots (2.8 per game).
Kentucky, led by junior guard A’Dia Mathies (15.7) will try to push the tempo and force LSU into turnovers.
Caldwell said the Lady Tigers must try to kill clock, as they did in a pair of wins over UK last season.
“We’re really going to have to slow the pace of the game down and be selective,” Caldwell said. “They do a great job of speeding you up and they disrupt your offense through their defensive pressure.”
LSU wraps up its home schedule Thursday against Alabama.