It didn’t take Kim Mulkey long to raise expectations at LSU. In the future, they will be more difficult to meet.
But Mulkey knows it’s best to preach “prospect” after his first straight loss with the Tigers.
Mulkey knew taking down Arkansas on the road would be tough, and No. 12 LSU’s 90-76 on Thursday explained it.
Midway through conference play, opposing teams know LSU (17-4, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) isn’t easy and are preparing stronger.
But Mulkey has a message for his team ahead of Sunday’s home game against Kentucky at 1 p.m.
“The sky is not falling,” she said.
But sometimes neither do the beatings.
“If you broke it, we missed shots that we normally do, midrange jumpers just didn’t go down,” she said of the Arkansas game. “We stayed in the game the first quarter. I replaced in the second quarter, three players on the bench and we lost eight.
“It’s a long season and I’m trying to buy them precious minutes, grow as a team. (Arkansas) got going, started hitting a couple 3s, and we missed shots and the we went back. It snowballed.”
LSU was pressured to defend the 3-point shot and Arkansas took advantage, hitting 13 of 25. Mulkey said she could have gone with a smaller roster for better big-shooting matchups. Faustine Aifuwa and fall newbie, but it goes against his grand plan.
“Is that what we have to do when we’re 17-4 and those big guys helped us get to 17-4?” she said. “I’m not going to do that. We are building a program here. You take what your strengths are and try to hide your weaknesses. Sometimes your weaknesses are exposed. I hope we won’t have to face these type of teams again before maybe the tournament.
Mulkey said the plan is to work on the little things that aren’t working the way they were earlier in the season, or the little things that the Tigers didn’t do and ran away with.
Alexis Morris scored 22 for LSU but got plenty of his points in a 31-point fourth quarter for LSU when the game was out of control. Generally reliable Khayla Pointer had a draw with 13 points and four turnovers, but she still dished out seven assists.
LSU again got poor performance from Aifuwa and Cherry Jailin, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Newby scored a season-high 15 points and added nine rebounds.
“I don’t think anyone saw the kind of season coming that we’re having,” Mulkey said. “Let’s be fair. Let’s be realistic. Keep doing what we’re doing and fixing a few things that maybe weren’t so bad at the start of the year because we weren’t ranked. Now we are spotted in more detail by the SEC.
“Fix things you may have escaped from. Keep playing with effort and good things will happen.”
Sunday’s game with Kentucky will be the oldies game. As many as 58 former Tiger players are expected to attend and be recognized at a half-time ceremony. The Tiger Girls team that recently won a national championship will also be honored.
LSU twice failed to give Mulkey his 650th victory. His career record as a head coach is 649-108. … Arkansas (31 of 62, 50%) was the first opponent to shoot 50% or better from the field against LSU since a loss to Florida Gulf Coast (53.1%) in Game 2 of the season. … When Pointer scored 35 in the loss to Florida, it was the most points for an LSU player since Semone Auguste had 35 in Florida in 2006.