Ole Miss women set to take on No. 15 LSU

Published 3:17 pm Monday, February 7, 2022

Fresh off a dominant win on the road over Missouri, the Ole Miss women’s basketball team returns home to face No. 15 LSU on Monday in a clash between the SEC’s top offense and defense.

Ole Miss (18-4, 6-3 SEC) is in the midst of their best season in decades, smothering opponents with a ferocious defense that leaves opposing offenses scrambling for answers. They rank 14th in the country in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 54.1 points per game this season.

Head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin’s squad blitzes opponents with relentless defensive pressure, generating 10.6 steals and 4.1 blocks per contest. The Rebels lead the conference with 20.1 turnovers forced per game. They are one of the most consistent defensive teams in the country, generating 15 or more turnovers in 19 of their 22 games this season.

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On offense, the Rebels are carried by national player of the year candidate and potential top-five pick Shakira Austin. The six-foot-five senior excels at getting downhill and forcing contact at the rim, averaging 14.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. She is second in the SEC in free throw attempts and fourth in makes.

The Virginia native is averaging 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game against ranked opponents, playing her best basketball against the premiere teams in the NCAA.

Rebounding has been the key for Ole Miss so far this season. The Rebels are 16-0 when they pull down as many boards as their opponent, and 2-4 when they lose the battle on the glass. They will have their hands full with a Tigers’ squad that averages over 43 rebounds per game.

LSU (18-4, 6-3 SEC) boasts the top scoring offense in the conference, averaging 76.5 points per game on over 46% shooting from the field. They are led by head coach Kim Mulkey, one of the preeminent coaches in women’s college basketball. The six-time national champion took over in Baton Rouge this season after 21 years at Baylor.

LSU ranks second in the SEC in field goal percentage and assists, breaking opponents down with one of the most efficient offenses in the country.

Senior point guard Khayla Pointer is the engine for the Tigers’ offense, contributing 19.1 points and 5.1 assists per contest. The five-foot-seven guard has scored 20 or more points in five of the past seven games, including a 35-point explosion against Florida on Jan. 23.

Ole Miss has lost eight consecutive matchups against the Tigers dating back to 2015. Their last win against LSU came on Feb. 26, 2015, when they eked out a 58-57 win at home.

With just seven games remaining in the regular season, the Rebels seeks a signature conference win to bolster their résumé and put themselves in a position to secure a first-round bye in the SEC tournament. They defeated then-No. 23 Kentucky in Lexington on Jan. 23, but the Wildcats lost three of their next four games to fall to 9-10 on the season.

Coach Yo’s squad is already in position to secure their first tournament appearance since 2007, but a win over LSU tonight would go a long way towards improving their seeding and easing any doubt in voters’ minds.

Ole Miss tips off against No. 15 LSU at 6 p.m. CT. The game will be available on SEC Network and the Ole Miss Radio Network.