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No. 7 LSU 61, No. 24 Middle Tennessee 40

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)

LSU already had established stars Allison Hightower and forward LaSondra Barrett. Lady Tigers coach Van Chancellor hopes he saw the emergence of another one in Taylor Turnbow. The sophomore forward had career highs of 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 7 LSU to a 61-40 victory over No. 24 Middle Tennessee on Wednesday night. "This was a coming out party for Taylor," Chancellor said. "She was truly, truly outstanding for us." Turnbow also helped hold All-American forward Alysha Clark to 16 points, though she had a game-high 20 rebounds for Middle Tennessee (1-1). The Blue Raiders beat the Lady Tigers (2-0) in each of the last two seasons, including last year's game in which Clark scored 37. However, Middle Tennessee's hopes of a third straight win over LSU evaporated quickly. After an early exchange of leads, LSU had its first double-digit lead by the 9:12 mark of the first half on a putback by Turnbow. Using her four-inch height advantage, the 6-2 Turnbow went into halftime with 11 points and seven rebounds, while limiting Clark to five points and eight boards. "It just kind of happened," Turnbow said of her performance. "I'm bigger than some of their players. I posted up hard. It's my job to rebound. I'm a post player. I just did my job." LSU led 35-15 at the break, with the advantage cut after Middle Tennessee's Jackie Pickel hit a 3-point shot from just across the midcourt line as time expired. It was the Blue Raiders' second basket in the final 13:25 of the half. "That was one of the greatest defensive efforts I've ever seen," Chancellor said. The Blue Raiders handed the Lady Tigers' 2008 Final Four team its first loss of that season, then rallied to win 79-75 in Baton Rouge last November. Middle Tennessee coach Rick Insell said he thought those two wins had a lot to do with LSU's intensity at the outset. "They came out with a little emotion," Insell said. "They made some shots and played good up-the-line defense. They did some things no one has ever done to us the last two years." Chancellor said before the game that his team was the most overrated in the nation ranked No. 7 while Middle Tennessee, ranked in the AP preseason poll at No. 24 for the first time, was the most underrated. "It didn't look like that in the first half," Insell said. "I think they're one of the top 10 teams in the country. I don't think they're overrated." Middle Tennessee got as close as 16 points with 7:10 remaining on a shot by Clark, but the Lady Tigers' lead was quickly back up to 20 on a pair of free throws by Turnbow and a jumper by Barrett. Barrett finished with 10 points. The Lady Tigers, who crushed Centenary 92-19 on Sunday in their season opener, held Middle Tennessee to 32.1 percent shooting and its lowest point total since scoring 32 against Tennessee-Martin on Jan. 5, 1998. LSU senior guard Allison Hightower was helped to the locker room after leaving the game with 3:02 remaining. Lady Tigers coach Van Chancellor said Hightower, who finished with seven points, suffered from leg cramps but was otherwise OK.

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