Cats hope Ormerod’s presence leads to different results at LSU

The last time the women’s basketball team won consecutive games, its streak was halted by then-No. 9 Louisiana State, who beat the Cats 72-46 at Rupp Arena on Jan. 27.

Now the Cats (13-12, 7-4 Southeastern Conference), who defeated Alabama 64-44 in their last outing Sunday, are looking to put together their first win streak since that loss.

Including the LSU game, UK has compiled a 3-3 record in its last six games, alternating wins and losses during that stretch.

But to string together their first consecutive wins since Jan. 24, the Cats must travel down to Baton Rouge for a rematch against the No. 6 Lady Tigers.

“We’re going to play the team that’s probably playing the best basketball in the country right now,” head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Our team had a tough time with them last time.”

A tough time indeed.

The last time these two teams faced off, LSU (22-3, 11-0 SEC) took control in the opening seconds of the contest. The Tigers scored their first basket just 14 seconds into the game and never relinquished their lead. LSU tallied 12 points before the Cats’ scored their first, and Mitchell’s squad never recovered.

But one thing makes tonight’s game different than the first: UK has junior guard Carly Ormerod back.

Ormerod, who has not logged a single minute since Dec. 20 due to turf toe and sesamoiditis, scored 8 points and dished out 2 assists in 17 minutes of play in the Cats’ 20-point thrashing of Alabama on Sunday.

Although Mitchell said she seemed to do well in her return, the coaching staff is still being cautious with her ailing foot.

“This time of year, we generally have two practices for each game,” Mitchell said. “She’ll sit out the first practice, practice the day before the game and play on game day. She seems to be doing well, but we’re still going to practice her one practice.”

Ormerod’s return will help the Cats’ defend the Tigers’ potent offense. For the Cats to pull the upset, Mitchell said a lot of things would have to go right on defense to prevent another Tiger mauling.

UK must get off to a better start in the rematch, Mitchell said.

“For us to have any chance to be competitive, we have to find some way to prevent those big runs from happening,” Mitchell said. “That means taking better care of the basketball and better shot selection. It’s a tall task, but our team is ready to go down there and give it our best shot. We’ll see how it works out, because I don’t feel like we played our best basketball when we faced them last time.”

The Cats shot a meager 26.8 percent from the field and hit only 1-of-8 from beyond the 3-point line in their first game against LSU.

Mitchell said UK’s defense has to improve just as much as the offense to play with LSU, which remains unbeaten in conference play.

“The problem last time was LSU had a good game from the outside, and (LSU senior center) Sylvia Fowles had a big game,” Mitchell said. “We can’t beat them if that happens, they’re just too powerful. If we can make it a lot tougher on Fowles and try to encourage them to shoot outside and we can get them off-balance, then we’ll have a chance.”