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LSU drops two spots in NCAA.com RPI; move up on ESPN.com

The LSU men’s basketball team dropped two spots to 54th in the updated NCAA.com RPI that was released Thursday morning.

LSU, which was 52nd on Wednesday after a Tuesday night win at Auburn, moved back a little because of movement of other teams around them.

However, LSU was up a notch to 49th on the ESPN.com rating percentage index.

ESPN.com bracketologist Joe Lunardi also moved the Tigers up a seed Wednesday on his latest projected bracket for the NCAA tournament.

Earlier this week, Lunardi had LSU as an 11th seed. But he moved the Tigers to the 10th spot in the South regional, pairing Johnny Jones’ team with No. 7 seed in a second-round game at Omaha, Nebraska.

Nikki Caldwell drops the glasses, but not for the reason you think

Nikki Caldwell’s bio on LSUSports.net mentions her fashion sense. The LSU women’s basketball coach’s collaboration on her on-court outfits with fellow former Tennessee player Shyra Ely-Gash is well documented.

Caldwell in recent years incorporated a thin pair of eye glasses into her look, but the last couple of games they’ve been absent (no jokes about LSU’s inability to shoot straight in Sunday’s 63-41 loss at Arkansas).

Turns out Caldwell isn’t trying to make a new fashion statement: she’s simply out of eye glasses for the time being.

“I’ve lost all my glasses,” Caldwell explained Tuesday. “My last pair got chewed up by my 12-week-old boxer. I’ve got more ordered, they just haven’t come in yet.”

Caldwell’s puppy by the way was named Tupac by her husband, Justin Fargas, after his favorite rap star.

Caldwell said the glasses will be back, with an added twist.

“I’m getting some purple ones,” she said.

SEC TOURNAMENT UPDATE: Caldwell’s Lady Tigers travel to Ole Miss on Thursday to take on the Rebels in a key 6 p.m. matchup on SEC Network+.

LSU is 15-11 and 9-5 in SEC play, while Ole Miss 16-11 and 6-8 after a 67-59 upset Monday of No. 13 Kentucky.

The loss by UK (19-8, 8-6) keeps the Wildcats a game back of LSU in sixth place. Kentucky is also down a tiebreaker to the Lady Tigers, who beat UK 84-79 on Jan. 18.

One more win by LSU at Ole Miss or at home Sunday against Texas A&M or one more loss by UK at Arkansas on Thursday or at home Sunday against No. 2-ranked South Carolina will mean LSU will be no worse than the No. 5 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament.

The Lady Tigers could be as high as the No. 3 seed if they win out while Mississippi State loses at South Carolina or to Ole Miss, with winning out meaning LSU would win the tiebreakers over State and A&M.

If LSU is the No. 3 or 4 seed in the SEC Tournament, the Lady Tigers will get a double bye into the quarterfinals and start playing Friday. If LSU is the No. 5 seed it will play in the second round on Thursday.

Opening Tip: LSU at Auburn

Opening Tip is posted about five hours before each game this season.

General Info

  • What: LSU (19-8, 8-6 SEC) at Auburn (12-15, 4-10 SEC)
  • When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
  • Where: Auburn Arena, Auburn, Alabama
  • All-time series: LSU leads 83-65
  • Last meeting: Auburn 81, LSU 77 (at Baton Rouge, Feb. 5, 2015)
  • TV: ESPNU
  • Radio: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 870; WWL-FM, 105.3; KLWB-FM, 103.7
  • In game Twitter updates: @MicklesAdvocate
  • Up next: LSU will host Ole Miss at 1 p.m. Saturday (FSNO)

Starting Five

  • GOING FOR 20: LSU will be shooting for its 20th win of the season, which would give the Tigers two in a row after going 20-14 a year ago. It would be Johnny Jones’ seventh 20-win season as a head coach after he had five during his 11-year stint at North Texas.
  • CENTURY MARK: After becoming the second player in LSU history to record 100 blocks in a season a year ago, forward Jordan Mickey needs only two more to do it in back-to-back seasons. Of course, the only other LSU player to have 100 blocks in a season is Shaquille O’Neal.
  • STILL STREAKING: If LSU guard Keith Hornsby hits double digits in scoring tonight, it’ll be the 11th game in a row — tying the streak Mickey had earlier this season. Going into tonight’s game, Hornsby is averaging 13.3 points a game during his 10-game streak.
  • BEATING PEARL?: Jones will be trying to get a win over Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, whom he has gone against just once as a head coach. That meeting came on Feb. 5 when Pearl guided his team to an 81-77 upset of LSU in the PMAC. Jones is 1-3 all-time against Auburn.
  • FILLING IN: Auburn senior guard K.C. Ross-Miller, a former LSU signee who never played a game during a short stay in Baton Rouge, will start a fourth straight game at the point in place of Tahj Shamsid-Deen — who is out for the season after having shoulder surgery last week.

Know Your Opponent

  • LSU fans need no introduction to the Auburn team after it came to Baton Rouge on Feb. 5 and stunned the Tigers 81-77 as a heavy underdog. Auburn did it mostly from the perimeter as guards KT Harrell and Antoine Mason combined for 52 points while making eight 3-point field goals. Harrell leads the Southeastern Conference in scoring (17.9 ppg) and 3-point field-goal shooting (45.2 percent), while 6-foot-7 forward Cinmeon Bowers leads the league in rebounding with 10.5 per game. Bowers, who also averages 12.8 points a game, and LSU’s Jordan Mickey are the only SEC players to average a double-double for the season. But Bowers will be on a mission after having one of his worst games of the season in getting only six points and five rebounds in a 110-75 loss at Kentucky on Saturday.

The Lineups

LSU (19-8, 8-6 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Jalyn Patterson, 6-1, Fr., 5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg
  • G Keith Hornsby, 6-4, Jr., 12.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg
  • G Tim Quarterman, 6-6, So., 11.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg
  • F Jarell Martin, 6-10, So., 16.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg
  • F Jordan Mickey, 6-8, So., 16.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Josh Gray, 6-1, Jr., 7.8 ppg, 4.1 apg
  • C Darcy Malone, 7-0, So., 1.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg
  • F Brian Bridgewater, 6-5, So., 2.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg

Auburn (12-15, 4-10 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G K.C. Ross-Miller, 6-0, Sr., 6.5 ppg, 2.3 apg
  • G KT Harrell, 6-4, Sr., 17.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg
  • G Antoine Mason, 6-1, Sr., 15.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg
  • F Cinmeon Bowers, 6-7, Jr., 12.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg
  • F Jordon Granger, 6-8, Jr., 1.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Malcolm Canada, 6-3, Sr., 5.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg
  • C Trayvon Reed, 7-2, Fr., 1.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg
  • G TJ Lang, 6-7, Fr., 1.8 ppg, 0.9 rpg

LSU women’s RPI drops to No. 67 after loss; SEC tourney possibilities

If there was any evidence needed as to how much the LSU Lady Tigers need a win Thursday at Ole Miss after Sunday’s 63-41 blowout loss at Arkansas, the numbers proved it Monday.

LSU’s RPI dropped from No. 63 to No. 67 according to the list released by the NCAA on Monday. The Lady Tigers slipped to 15-11 overall and 9-5 in SEC play, putting LSU’s brightening NCAA tournament hopes back into greater jeopardy.

During ESPNU’s telecast of Sunday’s LSU-Arkansas game, announcers said ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme has the Lady Tigers among his last four teams in the NCAA women’s tournament field of 64.

Creme on Monday updated his bracket with LSU remaining as a No. 11 seed. He now has the Lady Tigers playing at No. 6-seeded Princeton, which is the last undefeated team in women’s basketball at 25-0.

The loss at Arkansas dropped LSU to fifth in the SEC standings, a game behind Mississippi State and Texas A&M (both 10-4) and a half-game ahead of sixth-place Kentucky (8-5).

The Lady Tigers hold tiebreakers over State and Kentucky and have a loss to A&M with a game remaining against the Aggies at home Sunday in the regular season finale.

Ole Miss (15-11, 5-8) hosts Kentucky on Monday before hosting LSU Thursday (6 p.m., SEC Network+). The Rebels lost seven straight SEC games before a 51-46 win last Thursday at last-place Auburn. That losing streak included a 70-41 loss at LSU on Jan. 29.

Here are the possibilities for LSU at this point:

  • If LSU wins out to finish 11-5: The Lady Tigers would at least be the No. 4 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament in North Little Rock, Arkansas. LSU would be the No. 3 seed with two wins and a loss by Mississippi State, which plays Thursday at No. 2-ranked South Carolina.
  • If LSU splits its last two games to finish 10-6: It’s complicated, but the Lady Tigers could be anywhere from the No. 3 seed to the No. 6 seed depending what State, A&M and Kentucky do. Most likely, LSU would be the No. 5 seed.
  • If LSU loses its last two games to finish 9-7: The Lady Tigers would be the No. 5 seed if Kentucky loses two of its last three at Ole Miss, at Arkansas and at home against South Carolina. LSU would be the No. 6 seed if Kentucky wins two of three. The Lady Tigers can’t finish worse than the No. 6 seed because the next best teams (Arkansas and Georgia) already have eight losses.

LSU projected as ninth, 11th seeds in NCAA field

LSU remains penciled in as a No. 9 seed and 11th seed on the updated NCAA tournament brackets of CBSSports,com and ESPN,com, respectively.

LSU, which is 19-8 overall and 8-6 in the Southeastern Conference going into Tuesday night’s game at Auburn, was in those same spots in the brackets filled in late last week by Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com and Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com.

Palm still has the Tigers on his bubble, but lists them as the ninth seed in the South regional. He has them going against No. 8 seed St. John’s in a second-round game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lunardi puts LSU in as the 11th seed in the East regional, pairing them in a second-round game against sixth-seeded SMU in Louisville, Kentucky.

SMU eliminated LSU from the NIT last spring with a second-round win over the Tigers in Dallas.

LSU season finale at Arkansas to tip off at 1 p.m.

The tipoff for LSU’s regular-season finale at No. 18 Arkansas on Saturday, March 7, which had been listed since last fall as “to be determined,” has been set for 1 p.m.

The time for the game was listed Saturday on Arkansas’ official website and confirmed by an athletic department spokesman.

The game will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2.

LSU forward Martin finalist for Capital One honor

LSU forward Jarell Martin, who scored a career-high 28 points and had 13 rebounds in Saturday’s 70-63 victory over Florida, is one of four finalists for the Capital One Cup Impact Performance of the Week.

After scoring a total of 22 points in his previous two games, Martin gave LSU a huge boost late in the first half of a must-win game against Florida.

He had a steal and between-the-legs windmill dunk to give LSU a 28-26 lead and then hit a buzzer-beating 3-point shot to end the first half that gave the Tigers a 33-26 halftime advantage.

Fans can vote for Martin at www.CapitalOneCup.com.

LSU forward Martin earns top play nod on ESPN

LSU forward Jarell Martin’s steal at midcourt and between-the-legs windmill dunk in Saturday’s game with Florida was the No. 1 play in the Top Plays segment on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Martin’s slam late in the first half brought the Pete Maravich Assemby Center crowd to its feet and energized his team, which had just given up 13 unanswered points to the Gators.

The dunk, which was part of a career-high 28-point performance for Martin, gave LSU a 28-26 lead with just under two minutes to play and the Tigers never trailed again en route to the 70-63 win.

Opening Tip: Florida at LSU

Opening Tip is posted about five hours before each game this season.

General Info

  • What: Florida (13-13, 6-7 SEC) at LSU (18-8, 7-6 SEC)
  • When: Noon Saturday
  • Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
  • All-time series: LSU leads 61-43
  • Last meeting: LSU 79, Florida 61 (at Gainesville, Jan. 20, 2015)
  • TV: CBS
  • Radio: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 870; WWL-FM, 105.3; KLWB-FM, 103.7
  • In game Twitter updates: @MicklesAdvocate
  • Up next: LSU will visit Auburn at 6 p.m. Tuesday (ESPNU)

Starting Five

  • SNAPPING THE STREAK: With a satisfying 79-61 belting of Florida at Gainesville on Jan. 20, LSU emphatically snapped a six-game losing streak against the Gators. Florida’s streak included two wins in the PMAC in 2011 and 2013, with the Tigers’ last victory coming in 2009.
  • SHOOTING THEM DOWN: LSU is 18-2 this season when it outshoots its opponent from the field. In their earlier meeting, the Tigers knocked down 51.9 percent of their shots to just 38.3 percent for the Gators. LSU’s two losses when outshooting the opponent were to Kentucky and Auburn.
  • MARTIN & MICKEY: When the teams played in Gainesville, LSU forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey had their way inside against the Florida defense. They combined for 36 points and 22 rebounds with Martin going for 22 points and eight rebounds, while Mickey had 14 and 14.
  • IN THE HUNT: According to PlayoffStatus.com, as of Friday, LSU had a 75 percent chance of making the NCAA tournament. The Tigers also had a 38 percent chance of earning the No. 5 seed for the SEC tournament, which begins March 11 in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • TITO’S SON: Florida center Jon Horford, a transfer from Michigan, is the son of Tito Horford, a 7-foot-1 center who signed with LSU in 1985 but was kicked off the team before ever playing a game for the Tigers. Tito Horford’s other son, Al, played for the Gators and is now with the Atlanta Hawks.

Know Your Opponent

  • Florida comes to Baton Rouge a depleted team with its top two scorers — guard Michael Frazier II and forward Dorian Finney-Smith — not available for the game. Frazier will miss his fourth consecutive game with a high ankle sprain and Finney-Smith was indefinitely suspended by coach Billy Donovan on Wednesday for a violation of team rules. That’s a cruel double hit for the Gators because those two combine for 26.1 points — or 40.3 percent of the team’s scoring — and 10.4 rebounds, or 30.1 percent of the team’s total. Florida was already having trouble scoring with that duo in the lineup, getting just 60.8 points a game in their last nine outings before the Gators scored 50 in a three-point win over Vanderbilt on Wednesday night with both players out. UF’s leading scorer on the floor today will be guard Eli Carter, who averages 8.6 points per game.

The Lineups

Florida (13-13, 6-7 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Kasey Hill, 6-1, So., 7.2 ppg, 4.5 apg
  • G Eli Carter, 6-2, Jr., 8.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg
  • F Devin Robinson, 6-8, Fr., 5.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg
  • F Alex Murphy, 6-8, Jr., 5.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg
  • C Jon Horford, 6-10, Sr., 6.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg

Top reserves

  • F Chris Walker, 6-10, So., 5.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg
  • F Jacob Kurtz, 6-6, Sr., 4.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg
  • G Chris Chiozza, 6-0, Fr., 4.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg

LSU (18-8, 7-6 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Jalyn Patterson, 6-1, Fr., 5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg
  • G Keith Hornsby, 6-4, Jr., 12.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
  • G Tim Quarterman, 6-6, So., 11.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg
  • F Jarell Martin, 6-10, So., 15.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg
  • F Jordan Mickey, 6-8, So., 16.7 ppg, 10.6 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Josh Gray, 6-1, Jr., 8.1 ppg, 4.2 apg
  • C Darcy Malone, 7-0, So., 1.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg
  • F Brian Bridgewater, 6-5, So., 2.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg

LSU men still on ESPN.com’s NCAA bracket

After dropping only one spot on the NCAA.com RPI to 54th following Tuesday’s 68-62 road loss to Texas A&M, LSU remained on the NCAA tournament bracket of ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi that was updated Thursday morning.

LSU was penciled in on Lunardi’s bracket as the No. 11 seed in the West regional, facing sixth-seeded SMU in a second-round game. Interestingly, SMU eliminated LSU from the NIT last spring.

Lunardi, who lists six Southeastern Conference teams on his updated bracket, has LSU as one of his last four teams in the 68-team tournament that will receive first-round byes. The others are Cincinnati, Illinois and UCLA.

In the latest ESPN.com rating percentage index, LSU, which will host Florida at noon on Saturday, comes in at No. 51.