Can we just take a moment to say WELCOME BACK, BRIA GOSS! In Goss the Boss's first game since she broke her thumb in December, she helped spark the Cats to a 62-56 win over Florida. Bria's shooting skills need a little more time to bounce back to form, but she grabbed 2 critical steals and rebounds to ensure that Janee Thompson's visit to Memorial was a good one.
Also returning to the court was fellow senior Jelleah Sidney, whose been sitting out the season thus far with knee issues. Like Bria, Jelleah helped the Cats when they needed it most, pulling down 2 rebounds and 1 steal in just five minutes of action. The Wildcats' list of walking wounded shrunk just a bit this week and it was great to see.
We would be remiss in not calling out our 2 sophomore sensations Makayla Epps and Linnae Harper for putting on one of their best collective games of the season. Tight on AND off the court, they've put together a fantastic partnership that is going to really help the Cats as they battle through the SEC gauntlet. Baby Girl Epps led the team with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in her first game running the point, while Harper came this close to a double-double with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 steals. Somehow they accomplished all this without getting tagged for a single foul. Color us impressed, ladies!
So now that we can put to bed all the questions about "Will the team bounce back after losing Janee?" (yes) let's turn our focus back to "Just how good can this team become?" And the answer to that question runs right through the Maravich Assembly Center at 2 PM Sunday!
LSU, coached by the always intensely stylish Nikki Caldwell, has been a bit of a puzzle this year. Despite a lot of returning talent and size, the Tigers are only 9-6 overall and 3-2 in conference play. However, their game has definitely been on the upswing with recent victories over Florida, Vanderbilt and #15 Mississippi State. So expect Caldwell's club to come out licking their chops at the thought of delivering back-to-back wins over ranked teams as they face #11 Kentucky.
LSU players to watch include Olathe, Kansas native DaShawn Harden, whose overall offensive prowess may not look that impressive but she throws up a lot of rubber with the knowledge at least 33% will fall in. She also leads the team in steals. Maybe it's just me, but I can't help but wonder if there is something in the water in those parts. DaShawn and WCS weren't at the same school, which is probably good as that much athletic prowess would have been frightening to observe. (Unless you were from Olathe, I guess.) You'll also want to keep an eye on Raigyne Moncrief and Danielle Ballard, who in addition to being the second and third best point-makers are key playmakers on the assist and rebound front. (Note: Ballard has sat out 14 games due to a violation of team rules)
What should we expect to see in tomorrow's game? I'd expect it to be very physical - both these teams like to play an intense uptempo game. We're also pretty evenly matched up as far as offense goes, and both clubs can be turnover plagued. The Cats play slightly faster, so with luck our tempo will wear the Tigers down as the game progresses.
TL, DR: Put on your seatbelts kids, this ought to be quite the ride. You can catch all the action tomorrow at 2 PM EST on ESPNU.
Hope to see you here at ASoB as we cheer our Cats onto victory in Baton Rouge. Until gametime - Go Big Blue!