Jan. 17, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
Fresh off a win at Missouri to start the season, the two-time defending NCAA Champion Alabama gymnastics team opens its 2013 home slate Friday against the LSU Tigers. The meet, which will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPNU on a tape-delayed basis, gets underway at 7:30 p.m.
"It's going to be an exciting meet," Sarah Patterson, now in her 35th season as Alabama's head coach, said. "Alabama versus LSU is always a great competition. Coming in this weekend, they have one of the top three scores in the country and they only lost one routine from their team last year. It's going to come down to the last few routines for both teams, it's going to be that close."
Both teams have gotten the season off to a strong start, with No. 6 Alabama getting things going with a decisive road win over Southeastern Conference newcomer Missouri last Friday. No. 5 LSU opened with a pair of home wins, including an upset of No. 3 Florida last weekend.
Alabama All-American juniors Kim Jacob, Sarah DeMeo and Diandra Milliner swept the individual events against Mizzou. Jacob took top honors in the all-around and the floor exercise and shared first place on the balance beam with DeMeo who also won the uneven bars. Milliner posted a 9.925, the highest score of the night on any event, to win the vault.
After scoring a career-best tying 9.9 on the uneven bars to open the season, DeMeo comes into Friday's meet ranked No. 1 in the nation and as the SEC Specialist of the Week. For Jacob, it was her first time in the all-around since her freshman year.
LSU head coach D-D Breaux, now in her 36th season with the Tigers, is the longest standing head coach in the SEC. Her 2013 squad is led by sophomores Rheagan Courville and Lloiminicia Hall, who are ranked third and ninth nationally, respectively. Hall is also ranked second on the floor while Courville is third.
The two teams last faced off at the 2012 NCAA Seattle Regional Championships where Alabama took first place with a 197.025 and LSU was second with a 196.075. Both teams advanced to the NCAA Championships in Duluth, Ga., where Alabama won its sixth NCAA Championship overall and second in a row while LSU finished ninth.
Olympians Bart Conner and Kathy Johnson Clark will be on hand to call the action for ESPN2/ESPNU. The meet will air on ESPN2 on Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. CT and on ESPNU on Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m. CT.
Season and individual meet tickets are available through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262), located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, or online at RollTide.com.