All posts by Scott Rabalais

Scott Rabalais is a sports columnist and sports writer for The Advocate. A Baton Rouge native, he began working at the paper in 1991 and has covered LSU athletics since 1992.

Jenna Deemer to miss SEC women’s tournament for LSU

LSU coach Nikki Fargas said sophomore guard Jenna Deemer will miss this week’s Southeastern Conference tournament, which likely means she’s being shut down for the remainder of the season.

Deemer missed nine straight games with an undisclosed illness, came back and hit some key buckets in a 57-56 upset of Tennessee on Feb. 21. But she played sparingly Thursday against Florida and not at all Sunday at South Carolina.

A graduate of Ursuline in New Orleans, Deemer averaged 9.5 points per game in 19 contests with nine starts. LSU’s only consistent 3-point threat, Deemer shot 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, making 32 of 83 attempts. The rest of the Lady Tigers combined have made just 17 3-pointers.

The No. 13 seed in the SEC tournament, LSU (9-20, 3-13 SEC) will play No. 12 Alabama (15-14, 4-12) at 10 a.m. CST Wednesday in the first game of the week in Jacksonville, Florida. The winner meets No. 5-seeded Kentucky on Thursday afternoon.

Ben Simmons on the one thing he can’t do on the court

LSU star freshman Ben Simmons is known for his wealth of talents as a scorer, rebounder and passer, all wrapped in a package that displays tremendous body control around the basket.

But there’s something he said he can’t do (yet) on the court, and that’s dunk like Saturday’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Simmons said he wished the contest could have ended in a tie between LaVine and the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon. LaVine because he can take off on gravity-defying dunks from the free-throw line, and Gordon because he took a ball from the Orlando Magic mascot and launched over him for a spectacular between-the-legs slam.

“But probably Zach,” Simmons said Monday. “I know how tough that is. Between the legs I can do, but not from the free-throw line.”

Simmons was asked if he sees himself in the slam dunk contest one day.

“No. The skills challenge, though,” he said. “But eventually, maybe.”

By the way, the 19-year-old Simmons said he never dunked in a game until he was 15.

LSU star Seimone Augustus again a WNBA All-Star, but …

Former LSU great and Baton Rouge native Seimone Augustus has been selected as a starter for Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Unfortunately, though, Augustus is sitting out the game because of an injury.

The Minnesota Lynx guard has missed her team’s last three games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery July 17. A report on the team’s website lists the 10-year WNBA veteran as out indefinitely.

Nonetheless it’s a significant honor for Augustus. This is her third straight WNBA All-Star selection and sixth time she’s been named as an All-Star in her career.

Augustus received the third-most votes among Western Conference players with 9,599, behind only Skylar Diggins of Tulsa (15,895 votes) and Minnesota teammate Maya Moore (13,706).


An All-WNBA selection in each of the last four seasons, Augustus is averaging 15.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in 13 starts this season.


A two-time national player of the year at LSU and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Augustus is one of 13 players in WNBA history to amass 4,500 points, 900 rebounds, 500 assists, 200 steals and 100 blocks.

She recently moved into 16th place on the league’s all-time scoring list with 4,784 career points, which is a Minnesota franchise record.

Augustus is the only former LSU player named to this year’s WNBA All-Star Game (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ABC).

So you’re telling me LSU has a chance? CBS’s Craig Carton is

The up and down LSU men’s basketball team is one of the most polarizing in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Will they be one and done? Could the Tigers make a deep run?

Craig Carton thinks the latter and he put it in writing – or at least on a dry erase board.

Carton, who co-hosts the “Boomer and Carton” show on the CBS Sports Network with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, made his picks on their show Tuesday and had LSU beating Kentucky … to win it all.

OK, it seemed a bit off the cuff, but the Tigers have a few believers out there in the national media that they will at least win a game and advance to the round of 32.

LSU (22-10) is the No. 9 seed in the East regional and takes on No. 8 N.C. State (20-13) at 8:20 p.m. CDT Thursday in a second-round game in Pittsburgh on TBS.


LSU women’s RPI now at No. 56; latest bracketology

With one week to go before selection Monday for the NCAA women’s tournament, the LSU Lady Tigers’ RPI has inched up again.

LSU rose one notch to No. 56 in Monday’s official RPI rankings. The Lady Tigers (17-13) were No. 58 after beating Texas A&M 71-65 in Friday’s SEC tournament quarterfinals and No. 57 even after losing 74-54 in Saturday’s semifinals to South Carolina.

LSU’s modest climb is likely attributed to the fact that it played four games this season against South Carolina and Tennessee, which met in Sunday’s SEC tournament final (South Carolina won 62-46).

Tennessee is now No. 2 in RPI and South Carolina is No. 3, so strength of schedule of your opponents plays a factor.

In Monday’s projections, ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme continues to show LSU holding on the No. 10 seed line. He has the Lady Tigers meeting No. 7 Rutgers in an Oklahoma City Regional first-round game in Waco, Texas.

The NCAA women’s tournament field will be announced at 6 p.m. March 16 on ESPN.

Despite big loss, LSU women’s RPI climbs again

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A lopsided 74-54 loss to South Carolina on Saturday may have eliminated the LSU Lady Tigers from the Southeastern Conference women’s tournament, but the game actually enhanced LSU’s RPI.

The Lady Tigers (17-13) moved up one spot from No. 58 to No. 57 in the official NCAA RPI released Sunday. LSU moved up 12 spots Saturday after Friday’s 71-65 quarterfinal win over Texas A&M.

Meanwhile, ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme bumped LSU up a seed line to No. 10. He has the Lady Tigers in the Greensboro Regional, playing No. 7 Rutgers in Tallahassee, Florida.

LSU lost at home to Rutgers 64-57 on Nov. 22, so it’s questionable whether the NCAA selection committee would break one of its principles and set up a rematch in the first round.

The matchup is not likely to happen regardless. But finding itself more securely in Creme’s “bracketology” even after a loss is significant for the Lady Tigers, who didn’t look like an NCAA tournament team back when they played Rutgers.

One last note: Creme added Tulane to the bracket as one of his “Last Four In.” He has also has the Green Wave in the Greensboro Regional as the No . 12 seed, taking on No. 5 George Washington in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The NCAA field of 64 will be announced at 6 p.m. March 16 on ESPN.

LSU Lady Tigers’ RPI takes huge leap with SEC tourney win over A&M

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – LSU’s second-straight win over Texas A&M, a 71-65 victory coming in Friday’s quarterfinals of the SEC Women’s Tournament, was a huge boost to the Lady Tigers’ RPI and would seem to signal they are a strong bet to earn an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

LSU (17-12) rose 12 spots from No. 70 to No. 58 in Saturday’s official NCAA RPI. ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme on Saturday morning had the Lady Tigers holding at a No. 11 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional and not in the “Last Four In” group that includes fellow SEC member Arkansas.

The win over A&M, following LSU’s 80-63 romp over the Aggies in Baton Rouge on Sunday, is the Lady Tigers’ fourth against a current top 50 RPI team.

In addition to the wins over A&M, LSU has a win at No. 28 Mississippi State and at home against No. 9 Kentucky.

LSU takes on SEC Tournament top seed South Carolina at 4 p.m. on ESPNU in the tourney semifinals. South Carolina is No. 4 in the RPI, so a loss to the Lady Gamecocks (who twice beat the Lady Tigers by 24 points this season) would not likely be much of a knock on LSU’s NCAA hopes.

The NCAA women’s tournament field will be announced Monday, March 16 on ESPN. The tournament begins March 20.

Win over Aggies gives LSU women RPI bump, keeps them in NCAA picture

LSU’s 80-63 romp over then No. 12-ranked Texas A&M on Sunday gave the Lady Tigers an RPI bump and probably kept them in ESPN’s NCAA Tournament projections going into this week’s SEC Tournament.

LSU (16-12, 10-6 SEC) moved up eight spots to No. 71 in Monday’s official NCAA RPI. Meanwhile, ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme has LSU hanging in the NCAA Tournament field as a No. 11 seed in the Greensboro Regional, taking on No. 6 Ohio State in a first-round game in Durham, North Carolina.

Despite having lost their previous two games at Arkansas and Ole Miss, Creme actually pushed the Lady Tigers off the “Last Four In” list.

He has the SEC getting seven teams in the NCAA Tournament:

  • South Carolina (27-2, 15-1): No. 1 seed, Oklahoma City Regional
  • Tennessee (24-5, 15-1): No. 2 seed, Spokane Regional
  • Mississippi State (26-5, 11-5): No. 4 seed, Albany Regional
  • Kentucky (21-8, 10-6): No. 4 seed, Greensboro Regional
  • Texas A&M (22-8, 10-6): No. 6 seed, Albany Regional
  • LSU (16-12, 10-6): No. 11 seed, Greensboro Regional
  • Arkansas (16-12, 6-10): No. 12 seed, Spokane Regional

Creme’s latest projection finds Tulane (20-9, 11-7) on the “Last Four Out” list. Tulane’s RPI is No. 50.

LSU will be the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament. The Lady Tigers get a double bye all the way to Friday’s quarterfinals, where they will play No. 5-seeded Texas A&M or No. 12 Florida (13-16, 5-11) or No. 13 Auburn (12-17, 3-13) at about 2:30 p.m. The winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between Florida and Auburn will play A&M in Thursday’s second round.

Despite losing their last two regular-season games, the Aggies’ RPI dropped only from No. 24 Sunday to No. 28 Monday,

LSU has three wins over current Top 50 RPI teams: No. 9 Kentucky, No. 26 Mississippi State and No. 28 Texas A&M.

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

Nikki Caldwell’s bio on 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.

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.