AUBURN – The Auburn women's basketball team will step into the "Pink Zone" Sunday as the Tigers (12-13, 3-9 SEC) host No. 23 LSU (16-7, 5-6 SEC) at 2 p.m. at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The game will also air live on Fox Sports Net (Auburn Charter Channel 33, Dish Network Channel 420, DirecTV Channel 646) with Rich Waltz and five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards calling the action.
Fans are asked to join the teams and both coaching staffs and wear pink on Sunday. Tickets are just $5 and are available on the Internet at AuburnTigers.com, by phone at 1-800-AUB-1957 or at the door on game day.
The Tigers are also proud to announce that ALFA Insurance has returned on as the presenting sponsor of the WBCA Pink Zone and has offered to donate $1 for each of the first 5,000 fans in attendance to benefit the Joy to Life Foundation.
"We are thrilled about this opportunity to join with the WBCA in its efforts to raise breast cancer awareness," Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said. "We appreciate ALFA's support and donation to the Joy to Life Foundation and encourage Tiger fans to come out and get into the 'Pink Zone' on Sunday, Feb. 14."
As part of the game day festivities, the first 1,500 fans to the game will receive a `Pink Zone' T-shirt from ALFA Insurance. Fans will also enjoy a halftime performance by the Red Panda Acrobat and a post-game team autograph session.
The game between the Tigers and Bayou Bengals will be a re-match from Auburn's overtime 64-62 win in Baton Rouge, La., on Jan. 10. Junior Alli Smalley hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game to send it into overtime. Auburn out-scored LSU 5-3 in the extra period to take the win.
"I expect it to be a really competitive game, both teams are playing hard, trying to finish the conference season on a high note heading into the SEC Tournament," said Fortner. "We had some success at their place, beating them in overtime and I think LSU will come in here with something to prove against us. We are working hard to prepare for this game."
LSU enters Sunday's game on a wave from a big 70-30 win at Florida.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak that included overtime losses to Georgia and Ole Miss. The Lady Tigers have had some close losses this season as three of their six SEC losses have come in overtime, including a loss to Auburn earlier this season. Two of the other three conference losses have been in single digits.
Leading the team is senior Allison Hightower with 18.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Right behind her is sophomore LaSondra Barrett with
12.9 points and 7.0 rebounds.
"I think Allison Hightower is one of the best players in this league.
She is a dangerous player from a lot of areas on the floor, you always have to know where she is," said Fortner. "LaSondra Barrett had a great game against us the first time we played them. So, we have to do a better job of defending her this time."
Barrett led LSU with 27 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting against Auburn. Hightower struggled with injuries in the game, but still managed to score nine points in the loss.
LSU is a deep team with 11 players averaging more than 10 minutes per game. Eight players also average more than 4.0 points per game.
As a team, LSU shoots 41.3 percent from the field and are 31.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Tigers are the second-best free throw shooting team in the SEC at 71.9 percent.
The Bayou Bengals take care of the ball, averaging only 12.9 turnovers per game. LSU also forces 20.9 opponent turnovers per game, assisted by
9.9 steals per outing.
"You have to defend LSU very well," said Fortner. "They run a good motion offense and they are a very disciplined team offensively and they find their open shots. You have to try not to give them good looks at the basket."
Auburn is riding a three-game losing streak heading into Sunday's game against LSU. The slide follows a big 67-53 win over ninth-ranked Georgia on Jan. 31. Since then, Auburn has fallen to South Carolina (61-58), Alabama (55-53) and Arkansas (73-58).
The Tigers are playing their next-to-last game in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum before moving to the new Auburn Arena next season. Auburn is
7-5 on its home floor this season, 2-4 in SEC games.
Leading the way for Auburn this season is junior Alli Smalley with 15.2 points per game, ranking sixth in the SEC. Right behind her is senior KeKe Carrier with 13.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
Carrier ranks in the top 10 in the SEC in all three categories, including a third-place position in blocks.
Since the start of SEC play, freshman Morgan Toles has stepped up her role, averaging 7.8 points and 4.6 assists per game. She posted a career-best 10 assists against Georgia. Redshirt junior Jordan Greenleaf is averaging 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 points in SEC play. She is also making a case for All-Defensive team as she ranks 14th in steals and ninth in blocks in SEC-only games.
Earlier this season at LSU, it was Toles and Carrier, a Lake Charles, La., native, leading the way with 17 points each. Smalley followed with
14 points while Greenleaf neared a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
The Tigers average shooting 41.8 percent from the field and 31.0 percent from 3-point range. Auburn out-rebounds its opponents by 5.9 per game, 6.8 in SEC games. AU also averages 5.0 blocked shots per game.