UA faces No. 1 seed LSU in second round
After a season of ups and downs, the Arizona women's basketball team's biggest challenge still lies ahead as the Wildcats take on No. 1 seed Louisiana State University today at 5 p.m. in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.
No. 9 seed Arizona (20-11) is no stranger to the Tigers as it has faced off against LSU each of the last two years.
Last year, Arizona was defeated by LSU 76-66 Jan. 4 in Baton Rouge, La.
On Nov. 22, 2002, Arizona fell to the Tigers 78-71 in McKale Center in overtime, which served as the first collegiate game for Arizona center Shawntinice Polk and LSU junior guard Seimone Augustus.
"We're pretty familiar (with LSU) because we faced them the last two years," said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini. "They're a great team, maybe the best team in the country - if not the best, certainly the most athletic."
The Tigers are led by SEC Player of the Year Augustus, who averages 20 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Sylvia Fowles contributes 12 points and nine rebounds per game, while Temeka Johnson adds 10 points per game.
"They have a great point guard in Temeka Johnson, very athletic," Bonvicini said.
LSU (30-2) is outscoring its opponents 72.1 to 53 and out-rebounding them 39.3 to 34.1.
"They can run, and they're faster than we are," Bonvicini said. "We're going to have to do a very good job on the glass. We're going to have to play really smart. They're quicker and faster and jump higher.
"We have to be determined," she added. "We're going to have to be determined and execute our game plan."
The Wildcats are coming off a 72-69 first-round victory over No. 8 Oklahoma Sunday, while the Tigers defeated Stetson 70-36.
Despite the final score, LSU shot 38.1 percent from the field and were 2-for-12 from beyond the 3-point arc.
"They sag a lot, playing a sagging man(-to-man defense)," Bonvicini said of the Tigers' defense in a press conference yesterday. "They almost dare you to shoot. Their wingspan makes you think twice. They make you do things that you don't normally want to do."
The Tigers' only losses this season came at the hands of Tennessee (67-65) and Rutgers (51-49 in overtime).
"They have had two losses by two points each," Bonvicini said. "We don't play like Tennessee or Rutgers. We have respect for what they've done. They've earned it. It's not by talk. They earned it."
Polk, senior point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler and junior guard Natalie Jones have played LSU twice in their careers.
"They have a great guard-oriented team," Wheeler said in a press conference. "Temeka Johnson is one of the best point guards I have ever seen play for her size. Seimone Augustus is one of the best players I have ever seen play. I think they are a quick team in transition, and they rebound well. They also have great leadership."
Polk added that the Tigers present multiple threats on the court.
"With a team like LSU they really don't have any weaknesses," she said in a press conference. "They are a well-rounded team. For us it is going to be executing. If we can execute to the top of our game then I think it is going to be a good one. Finding a weakness in a team like LSU is really hard because you cannot really pinpoint anything."