NASHVILLE — It's not easy guarding Sylvia Fowles.
That was what Kentucky center Sarah Elliott found out Saturday as Fowles posted her 18th double double of the season, scoring 20 and grabbing 13 rebounds to lead No. 7 LSU past the Wildcats 66-49 in the SEC tournament semifinals.
The top-seeded Tigers (27-4) play in their fourth straight final at 7:30 tonight against either No. 3 Tennessee or No. 21 Vanderbilt, who met in the late semifinal.
Fowles, the SEC player of the year, has learned how to control her nerves in her big games. She avoided foul trouble against the Wildcats.
"I always get overhyped for games like this," said Fowles, who shot 6 of 9 from the floor and made 8 of 9 free throws. "I learned how to calm down and just let the game come to me. I'll be looking forward to game (today)."
LSU coach Van Chancellor has worked on making Fowles believe in her talent and overcome her doubts.
"Great players have to think they're going to make plays," Chancellor said. "They have got to be a factor in the game. You can't be a big factor in the game if you're all nervous and hyped."
Samantha Mahoney had 17 points and Elliott added 12 in the losing effort for the fourth-seeded Wildcats (15-15).
Kentucky shot its second-lowest field goal percentage of the season, 31.1, and now awaits its postseason fate.
The Wildcats used mostly man-to-man defense and Elliott could not keep up with the quicker, more agile Fowles, playing just 20 minutes because of foul trouble.
"All you can do is be physical with her, play her tough," Elliott said. "All I can do is just give her my best, and I know she's going to get baskets and be understanding of that."
LSU used two early 5-0 runs to take a 16-9 lead after a Fowles three-point play with 10:55 left in the first half.
Chancellor took Fowles out at the eight-minute mark and Kentucky answered with six straight points to cut the lead to three. Quianna Chaney (18 points) and Fowles re-entered and ignited a 7-0 run, pushing the Tigers to a 37-26 halftime lead.
LSU put the game out of reach with a 14-6 run early in the second half.
Though the Tigers have plenty of experience reaching the final, they have not won the tournament since 2003.
"It's like a sense of urgency," Fowles said. "You want to win it real bad, but you've got to calm down and make sure you come out on the right note."