LSU women open SEC tournament Thursday against Auburn

The hottest team in the Southeastern Conference drew a familiar foe for its opener in the SEC women’s basketball tournament.

The LSU Lady Tigers (19-10, 10-6) won six straight games to end the regular season, including Sunday’s 67-52 upset of Texas A&M, and will be the No. 6 seed, taking on No. 11 Auburn (16-13, 5-11) at 7:30 p.m. CST on Thursday in the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.

LSU beat Auburn in their only meeting of the regular season, squeaking out a 59-55 victory Jan. 31 in Auburn.

A 13-team field will play in this year’s tournament. Ole Miss (9-20, 2-14), which finished last in the SEC, self-imposed a postseason ban and will not participate.

The tournament starts Wednesday when No. 12 Mississippi State (13-16, 5-11) takes on No. 13 Alabama (12-17, 2-14) at 5 p.m.

The tournament cranks up full force with four games Thursday. No. 8 Arkansas (18-11, 6-10) takes on No. 9 Florida (17-13, 6-10) at 11 a.m., followed by the State/Alabama winner against No. 5 South Carolina (23-6, 11-5) at 1:30 p.m.

The night session begins with No. 7 Vanderbilt (19-10, 9-7) against No. 10 Missouri (17-13, 6-10) in the Tigers’ SEC tournament debut at 5 p.m., followed by LSU/Auburn.

The LSU/Auburn winner takes on No. 3 Georgia (24-5, 12-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals. The Lady Tigers beat the Lady Bulldogs 62-54 in Baton Rouge on Feb. 10 to start their winning streak.

Regular-season champion and No. 1 seed Tennessee (23-6, 14-2) also has a bye, as do No. 2 Kentucky (25-4, 13-3) and Texas A&M (21-9, 11-5), which snagged the No. 4 seed in its first tournament despite Sunday’s 67-52 loss to LSU.

The semifinals are set for Saturday, with the championship game Sunday. The tournament winner earns the SEC’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.