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.

DaShawn Harden will not play at Tennessee

LSU senior guard DaShawn Harden will not play Thursday night when the Lady Tigers take on No. 5-ranked Tennessee at 6 p.m. in Knoxville, Tennessee, team spokesman Matt Dunaway said.

Harden took an elbow to the eye Sunday about four minutes into the second half of LSU’s 84-79 upset of then No. 10 Kentucky at the PMAC.

She didn’t suffer any bone fractures, LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said, but did suffer some significant swelling around her eye. Caldwell said Harden was not checked for a concussion.

Harden was LSU’s leading scorer with 11.5 points per game until Danielle Ballard became eligible. She is averaging 14.3 points per game in four games since returning from a 14-game suspension to start the season.

The LSU-Tennessee game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Danielle Ballard named USBWA national player of the week

Another day another major honor for junior guard Danielle Ballard – her biggest yet.

Ballard was named Tuesday as the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. This followed honors Monday from the SEC, ESPNW and LSWA.

Ballard averaged 24.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals in LSU’s two upset wins over top 15-ranked teams.

She had 24 points in a 71-69 double overtime win Thursday at then No. 15 Misssissippi State and a career high-tying 25 points Sunday in an 84-79 win over then No. 10 Kentucky.

Ballard is averaging 14.3 points per game in her four games since returning from a 14-game suspension to start the season.

Ballard was not made available for interviews Tuesday.

LSU’s Danielle Ballard earns SEC, ESPNW, LSWA honors

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Danielle Ballard drives for a layup Sunday against Kentucky. Advocate staff photo by Patrick Dennis

No one had a week like LSU’s Danielle Ballard.

The junior guard rose to the occasion just when the Lady Tigers needed her most, scoring 24 points Thursday in a 71-69 upset win at No. 15-ranked Mississippi State and a career high-tying 25 points Sunday in an 84-79 upset of No. 10 Kentucky at the PMAC.

For that, the junior guard from Memphis, Tennessee, was honored Monday as the Southeastern Conference, ESPNW and Louisiana Sports Writers Association player of the week.

In addition to averaging 24.5 points in her last two games, Ballard also averaged 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals.

Her play was reminiscent of her three-game run in the NCAA tournament last year. With first Raigyne Moncrief then Jeanne Kenney sidelined by injuries, Ballard averaged 23.3 points and 14 rebounds per game to carry the Lady Tigers to the regional semifinals.

Eight of Ballard’s 10 career-best scoring games have now come against ranked opponents.

Her efforts allowed LSU (10-8, 4-2 SEC) to post back-to-back wins over ranked teams for the first time since the Lady Tigers made their last trip to the Women’s Final Four during the 2007-08 season.

LSU is in a five-way tie for fourth place in the SEC standings. The Lady Tigers also moved up from No. 98 to No. 87 Monday in the NCAA’s official RPI rankings.

Ballard’s emergence came in a time of emergency for LSU. The Lady Tigers went 6-6 in pre-SEC play, their worst non-conference record in 20 years.

Ballard was suspended for LSU’s first 14 games for a violation of unspecified team rules. She returned two weeks ago, scoring four points each in her first two games against Vanderbilt and Texas A&M before erupting in her last two.

While discipline may have been a problem for Ballard, there’s certainly no questioning her ability, as LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said after the Lady Tigers’ win over UK.

“Ballard is an All-American,” Caldwell said. “She’s one of the best guards in the country. And she has the ability to make the other people around her very good.”

LSU returns to action at 6 p.m. Thursday at No. 6 Tennessee, the last of five ranked opponents the Lady Tigers will have played over a six-game span.

LSU is home next Jan. 29 against Ole Miss.

Free admission to Sunday’s women’s game vs. No. 1 South Carolina

Fans can redeem a voucher for free admission to the LSU women’s game Sunday against No. 1-ranked South Carolina, compliments of The Advocate.

Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The free admission voucher is available by clicking a link on the women’s basketball home page at www.LSUSports.net and must be presented on game day at the PMAC ticket office on game day for redemption.

The game will also be the “Gold Game” for the Lady Tigers. The first 1,500 fans attending will receive a women’s basketball t-shirt featuring this season’s “All for One” motto.

LSU, 6-6 overall, opens SEC play at 6 p.m. CST Friday at Florida (8-5). The game will be shown online on SECNetwork+. The South Carolina game will be televised on ESPN2.

LSU’s Raigyne Moncrief being evaluated for Tuesday; Youngblood suspended indefinitely

LSU guard Raigyne Moncrief will undergo a medical evaluation Monday afternoon to determine whether she will be available to play for the Lady Tigers in Tuesday’s second-round NCAA Tournament game against West Virginia.

Moncrief injured her left knee Sunday with 15:45 left in LSU’s 98-78 first-round win over Georgia Tech as she attempted to drive to the basket. She had to be helped to the locker room.

Moncrief injured her right knee in February and was making her first start since Feb. 20.

Junior Danielle Harden, who started five straight games in Moncrief’s absence, will likely start against West Virginia (8:30 p.m., ESPN2). The winner advances to the regional semifinals Sunday in Louisville, Ky.

Harden scored 17 points off the bench and made all three of her 3-point attempts.

LSU coach Nikki Caldwell expressed optimism that Moncrief will be cleared to play. The freshman from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is averaging 10.1 points per game, third on the team.

Meanwhile, Caldwell announced sophomore center Derreyal Youngblood is suspended for the NCAA Tournament. Caldwell said the suspension was for a violation of team rules but did not elaborate.

Youngblood did not play against Georgia Tech and wasn’t seen on the team bench.

The Harvey native has been suspended previously this season and hasn’t played since LSU’s regular-season finale March 2 at Alabama. She is averaging 1.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 21 games.

LSU Lady Tigers snap 6-game losing streak with 78-65 SEC tourney win over Alabama

DULUTH, Ga. – Shanece McKinney and Danielle Ballard each scored 18 points and Theresa Plaisance recorded a double-double as the LSU Lady Tigers snapped out of a nightmarish six-game losing streak Thursday with a 78-65 victory over Alabama in second round of the SEC Tournament.

No. 10-seeded LSU, winning for the first time in exactly one month, improved to 19-11. The Lady Tigers advanced to face No. 2-seeded Tennessee at 5 p.m. CST Friday in the SEC quarterfinals.

No. 7 Alabama, which beat LSU 78-60 in Tuscaloosa on Sunday to close out the regular season, finished 14-16 in its first season under Louisiana native and former Louisiana Tech assistant Kristy Curry.

Running and sinking shots at a pace rarely seen in their recent outings, the Lady Tigers built a 25-point lead midway through the second half after leading 34-27 at halftime.

Alabama cut the deficit to 10 at one point but LSU pulled away at the free throw line.

McKinney also had a career-high 10 rebounds to go with her 18 points on 8 of 9 shooting and recorded four of LSU’s eight blocks.

Jeanne Kenney had 16 points while Plaisance, LSU’s All-SEC forward, had 12 points and 12 rebounds for her 16th career double-double.

LSU split with Tennessee in the regular season. The Lady Tigers won 80-77 on Jan. 2 in Knoxville and lost 72-67 to the Lady Volunteers at home. LSU rallied in that game from a 21-point halftime deficit to tie the score 59-59 with 3½ minutes left before Tennessee hit a couple of clutch baskets for the win.

The victory over Alabama likely erased any doubts of LSU’s NCAA tournament hopes. The Lady Tigers still possess the nation’s No. 12 RPI and No. 1-ranked strength of schedule.

LSU will host first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games March 23 and 25 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

LSU Lady Tigers No. 10 seed in SEC tourney, to face Bama in rematch

LSU will be the No. 10 seed in this week’s SEC women’s basketball tournament and will turn around and play No. 7-seeded Alabama.

Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. CT at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. The winner plays Tennessee in Friday’s quarterfinals, also at 5 p.m. CT.

LSU (18-11, 7-9 SEC) fell 78-60 at Alabama on Sunday to end the regular season with six straight losses and their seventh defeat in their last eight games. Alabama is 14-15 and 7-9.

LSU and Alabama wound up in a five-way tie for sixth place with Vanderbilt, Georgia and Auburn in the final SEC standings. LSU dropped to the 10th seed because it was only 1-3 against the other teams it was tied with having only beaten Auburn.

Here are the final SEC standings and seedings:

1. South Carolina (26-3, 14-2) – Friday in quarterfinals vs.

2. Tennessee (24-5, 13-3) – Friday in quarterfinals vs.

3. Texas A&M (23-7, 13-3) – Friday in quarterfinals vs.

4. Kentucky (22-7, 10-6) – Friday in quarterfinals vs.

5. Florida (18-11, 8-8) – Thursday in second round vs.

6. Auburn (16-13, 7-9) – Thursday in second round vs.

7. Alabama (14-15, 7-9) – Thursday in second round vs. LSU, 5 p.m. CT

8. Vanderbilt (18-11, 7-9) – Thursday in second round vs. Georgia

9. Georgia (19-10, 7-9) – Thursday in second round vs. Vanderbilt

10. LSU (18-11, 7-9) – Thursday in second round vs. Alabama, 5 p.m. CT

11. Arkansas (19-10, 6-10) – Wednesday in first round vs. Ole Miss

12. Missouri (17-12, 6-10) – Wednesday in first round vs. Miss. State

13. Miss. State (18-12, 5-11) – Wednesday in first round vs. Missouri

14. Ole Miss (11-19, 2-14) – Wednesday in first round vs. Arkansas

LSU Lady Tigers’ massive rally comes up short vs. Tennessee, 72-67

A massive second-half comeback by the LSU Lady Tigers came up short against archrival Tennessee on Thursday night, as LSU fell by a score of 72-67.

LSU trailed by 21 points, 42-21, at halftime, but rallied to force a tie at 59-59 with 3:28 left.

But No. 10-ranked Tennessee answered led by 31 points from Meighan Simmons, who hit a huge 3-pointer to put her team up 68-63 with 56 seconds left.

The loss was LSU’s fifth straight and sixth in their last seven games, the program’s longest losing streak since dropping six in a row during the 1994-95 season. LSU is now 18-10 overall and 7-8 in the SEC.

Tennessee improved to 23-5 and 12-3.

Seniors Jeanne Kenney and Theresa Plaisance, playing their final regular-season home games, led LSU with 21 and 20 points, respectively. Fellow senior Shanece McKinney had four points.

LSU wraps up the regular season Sunday at Alabama then heads to Duluth, Ga., next week for the SEC tournament. Despite its recent losing streak, the Lady Tigers will likely play in the NCAA tournament at home when they host first- and second-round games March 23 and 25.

Despite losses, ESPN’s Creme says LSU Lady Tigers will play in NCAA

The LSU Lady Tigers would still be in the NCAA tournament even if they lose their remaining SEC games and in the first round of next week’s SEC tournament, ESPN women’s bracketologist Charlie Crème said Thursday.

“If they go 0-3 they’d still be in the tournament, but they would possibly play themselves into an ugly looking seed,” Crème said.

LSU, 18-9 overall and 7-7 in SEC play entering Thursday night’s game with Tennessee, has lost four straight and five of six, the program’s worst skid in 19 years.

Despite the recent losses, LSU’s RPI remains high at No. 9 because of its No. 1-ranked strength of schedule. That and LSU’s recent record are things the NCAA selection committee may have to reconcile, Crème said.

“LSU is a very intriguing case,” he said. “I’m shocked their RPI is still that high, but numerically their schedule is the best. But the losses are starting to pile up and that’s tough to swallow.”

In his most recent bracket projection released Monday, Crème has LSU as a No. 7 seed in the Louisville regional. The Lady Tigers would get to play their first two NCAA rounds at home, assuming they win their NCAA opener, but he has LSU going against No. 2-seeded Louisville in the second round.

If LSU continues to lose, Crème said the Lady Tigers could drop to a No. 8 or 9 seed. But that would force the NCAA selection committee into the unpleasant position of sending a No. 1 regional seed, likely Notre Dame or possibly Stanford, for a potential second-round game with LSU on its home floor.

“For a No. 1 seed to go play at LSU, that’s tough,” Crème said.

If LSU could turn its fortunes around and finish the regular season with wins over Tennessee and Sunday at Alabama, then win at least one game in next week’s SEC tournament, Crème said the Lady Tigers could rebound to a No. 5 seed.

“This four-game losing streak isn’t going to look as awful if they turn around and win a bunch of games in a row,” he said.

Tip off between LSU and Tennessee is set for 8 p.m. at the PeteMaravichAssemblyCenter. The game will be televised on CSS and WatchESPN.com, and can be heard on WBRP-FM 107.3 and in the Geaux Zone at LSUSports.net.

Shanece McKinney represents LSU on SEC Community Service Team

Senior Shanece McKinney, right, is LSU's SEC Community Service Team representative.

Senior Shanece McKinney, right, is LSU’s SEC Community Service Team representative.

LSU center Shanece McKinney was named Wednesday to the 16th annual Southeastern Conference Community Service Team for women’s basketball.

McKinney, a senior sports administration major from Mobile, Ala., has participated in numerous community service projects including close to 200 hours alone for the current school year. She also serves as women’s basketball representative on LSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

McKinney’s community service projects include the United Way Day Action, Juneteenth, basketball clinics, Special Olympics and the Halloween BOOzar at LSU.

McKinney played a major role in the team’s participation in Thanksgiving with the Tigers. During the event each LSU athletic team adopts an underprivileged child for the holidays and welcomes the child along with his or her family to campus for a Thanksgiving-style meal served by the student-athletes and games, activities, and gift exchanges.

McKinney has participated in a semester long commitment to the Big Buddy program where she volunteered at a local elementary school’s PE classes to mentor with youth.

LSU wraps up its regular season home schedule at 8 p.m. Thursday against No. 10-ranked Tennessee. The game will be televised on CSS and WatchESPN.com, and can be heard on WBRP-FM 107.3 and in the Geaux Zone at LSUSports.net.

2013-14 SEC Women’s Basketball Community Service Team

Shanece McKinney, LSU

Joey Bailey, Arkansas

Jaterra Bonds, Florida

Cierra Burdick, Tennessee

Marjorie Butler, Georgia

Lianna Doty, Missouri

Kastine Evans, Kentucky

Candance Foster, Mississippi State

Gracie Frizzell, Ole Miss

Nikki Hegstetter, Alabama

Elem Ibiam, South Carolina

Jordan Jones, Texas A&M

Jasmine Lister, Vanderbilt

Tyrese Tanner, Auburn