Kim Mulkey wins first SEC women's basketball game at LSU by turning back Georgia
The first SEC game of the Kim Mulkey era was a success as LSU women's basketball held off No. 12 Georgia 68-62 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia, on Thursday night.
The Tigers (12-1, 1-0 SEC) extended their winning streak to 12 games thanks to an impressive and efficient first-half offensively followed by timely second-half shooting to pull away from the Bulldogs (11-2, 0-1).
“It’s their first SEC win with a new coach, a change in philosophy, a change in staff,” said Mulkey. “We were shorthanded, didn’t have Ryann (Payne) here to relieve those guards any.
“I just was so proud of them. We pretty much handled the whole game until they went to their 3-2 zone (in the third quarter). They don’t play much zone.”
LSU didn't trail until there was 6:56 remaining in the game and traded buckets with Georgia over the final minutes before a pair of 3-point shots by star guard Khayla Pointer gave the Tigers a three-point lead with 1:01 remaining that they'd never surrender.
“She comes right back and basically wins the game for you when she hits a big time three,” Mulkey said. “Great players have to have a short memory. They can’t be afraid to fail. I compliment that young lady.”
Pointer finished with a team-high 21 points on 45% shooting from the field. Faustine Aifuwa scored 17 points and Jailin Cherry added 10 points.
It's the third consecutive season in which the Tigers began SEC play with a win.
Unranked LSU plays No. 17 Texas A&M on Sunday and No. 1 South Carolina on Jan. 6.
Here's what we learned from the Tiger's win.
Hot start against an elite defense
Coming into the matchup, Georgia was allowing its opponents just 51.4 points per game, ranked No. 14 in the NCAA. The Tigers nearly topped that in the first half alone.
LSU scored 41 first-half points on 58% shooting from the field, never allowing the Bulldogs to get hold of the lead in the first 20 minutes.
While they weren't as impressive or efficient in the second half, the Tigers still managed to pour in 27 points in the final two quarters, including multiple clutch buckets from Pointer.
Struggle to contain Georgia's star
With Georgia's leading scorer Jenna Staiti missing the game due to health and safety protocols, the Bulldogs had to look elsewhere for its offensive production. Que Morrison, the team's second-highest scorer, turned out to be the answer and gave LSU problems.
Morrison scored 17 of Georgia's 33 first-half points with the rest of the starters combining for just 11 points. She also played every minute of the first half.
Morrison finished with a game-high 26 points on an efficient 11-of-18 shooting to go along with 10 assists and seven rebounds.
LSU was quick to take advantage of any mistake that the Bulldogs made. The Tigers forced 18 turnovers and managed to get 20 points off of them, leading the points off turnover category 20-19.
The Tigers also did a decent job of capitalizing on their second-chance opportunities scoring seven points off their 11 offensive rebounds.