On paper this looks like a winnable game. LSU is having kind of a down year, with their top player Raigyne Moncrief doubtful with a knee injury. Their record so far this season is an unimpressive 3-2 for an elite program. But the Lady Tigers are, year in and year out, a very competitive SEC team with a storied history. After all, this is the team that produced Sylvia Fowles and Simone Augustus, two of the best women's basketball players in the world. Their head coach is Nikki Fargas (formerly Nikki Caldwell) who played for a national championship Tennessee team. She is in her 5th year as head coach of LSU. A previous coach was Van Chancellor, one of the all time great women 's basketball head coaches, who has won in impressive fashion wherever he has been. LSU is no stranger to 30 win seasons and final fours.
Besides Moncrief, Senior forward Ann Jones and Sophomore guard Jenna Deemer are leading the team in rebounds and points respectively. It would be safe to say that the rest of the players are very athletic, as this is the kind of player LSU recruits with coach Fargas continuing that trend.
Compared to the last 15 years or so, LSU is still searching for their team identity this season. In a way like our Lady Boilers are. Their shooting, rebounding, and defense are fairly solid. Their worst attribute early this season has been the turnover bug, and their assist to turnover ratio is a dismal 0.5. However, they turn over their opponents at about the same rate, which shows that LSU struggles to create enough points off of assists.
It would be tempting to predict a Purdue win, as our program is on the upswing, and LSU is projected to have a down year for them. However, Purdue is 3-0 against 3 teams that are not Power 5 conference opponents that the Boilers were expected to beat. Now the real season starts against a traditional SEC opponent. For Purdue to win, we would have to win the turnover battle, shoot well inside and outside, fight for every rebound and loose ball, and get production in the post, and continue the trend of playing solid defense. April Wilson and Bridget Perry will need great games, which they have proven they are capable of having. In particular, Wilson regained some of her shooting touch against North Florida, making 4 of 6 from downtown and filling up the stat sheet. This year it is Wilson's team. While Purdue can get the ball up the court in a hurry, so can LSU. Until our team can prove itself against tougher competition, I am going to have to go against my glass half full optimism, and predict a loss. It is games like this, along with a game the next day against Louisville or Marist, that show where our team is really at, at this point early in the season. We stay competitive for much of the game, but in the end get out-played and out-coached.
Prediction: LSU 69 - Purdue 62