Kim Mulkey, LSU Women on “Business Trip” to Puerto Rico for Two Games | LSU

Not even 12 hours after playing their best game of the Kim Mulkey era, the LSU women’s basketball team leaves town on a Thanksgiving “business trip.”

The Tigers play two games in the San Juan Shootout this week, New Mexico State Friday and Missouri State Saturday at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. The Tigers face the NMSU at 1:30 p.m. Friday and Missouri State at 11:15 a.m. Saturday.

Mulkey reminded his players after Tuesday’s 75-58 win over Tulane that while there would be time for the beach, the goal is to win two basketball games.

“I want them to understand first that this is a business trip, but we’re going to have fun,” Mulkey said. “Three quarters of the team weren’t there. Why not go ahead and let them put on their bikinis and enjoy the waves, do whatever they want to do? They have to understand that we want to go out there and win two basketball games. We need to make a quick turnaround there.

That’s not a bad reward for a team that climbed 58 spots to No. 29 on the rankings with Tuesday’s victory. But the state of Missouri, a perennial powerhouse among the middle majors, is ranked No. 6 in the same poll. The State of New Mexico arrives at No. 203.

Four games after the start of the Kim Mulkey era, the promise of better times ahead became clearer as LSU claimed a 75-58 victory over an experience…

“When you watch mid-major type programs, Mizzou State is always one of the best,” Mulkey said. “They are very good, like the Gulf Coast of Florida. True college girls’ basketball fans know they can beat you. Mizzou is one of the top 3-4 mid-majors each year.

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Missouri State is 52-8 with two Missouri Valley Conference titles and two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances under coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, entering his third season. The Bears are led by 6-foot-1 senior post Jasmine Franklin, who is averaging 15.5 points and 14.5 rebounds. Senior goalie Brice Calip is averaging 11.8 points and 4.5 rebounds.

New Mexico State balanced the score in their four-guard roster, led by 6-3 forward Bigue Sarr, averaging 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. Three other players average at least 11 points per game. Coach Brooke Atkinson is in her 11th season and her teams have competed in four NCAA tournaments since 2015.

LSU has just put in a strong offensive performance against a strong team from Tulane. The Tigers shot 47.8 percent, including 58.8 in the second quarter when they definitely took the lead with a 15-0 streak. Defensively, LSU forced 17 turnovers and Tulane shot 31.8 from the field.

Faustine Aifuwa reached season highs of 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, but Mulkey was happier having five double-digit players. Khyala Pointer had 14 points and six assists and Autumn Newby missed a rebound from a double-double.

“Our defense was strong,” Mulkey said. “We didn’t expose ourselves too much. This allowed us to stay ahead. When you perform like we didn’t the last time we played here, you get confident.

“If you have five kids who are confident in shooting basketball and they like to spread wealth, we’ll take that.” Sometimes someone spends a night off and has to do something else. Defend for you, bounce back for you. Don’t allow anyone to rate how he’s playing because of what he’s doing on the offensive end. Rate them for consistency. When they stop shooting, I’ll take them out.

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