LSU upsets No. 10 Kentucky 84-79
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Danielle Ballard hasn’t needed much time to demonstrate how much tougher her presence makes the LSU Lady Tigers.
No. 10 Kentucky was the second ranked team in four days to find that out.
Ballard scored a season-high 25 points to go with five assists, and LSU poured in its highest point total of the season in an 84-79 triumph over the Wildcats on Sunday.
”Coach always says, `Feed the person with the hot hand,’ and I guess my teammates were feeding me the ball,” said Ballard, who is who scored 24 points in LSU’s double-overtime upset of No. 15 Mississippi State on Thursday. ”We’re all playing as a team. We’re all hustling. We’re all doing what it takes to win games and that’s the most important thing.”
The Lady Tigers (10-8, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) improved to 3-1 since Ballard, who last season averaged 10.7 points, returned after being suspended for LSU’s first 14 games for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
”She’s one of the best guards in the country and she has the ability to make other people around her very good and when she does that, and she’s up there with five, six, seven assists, other people are going to shine,” Caldwell said. ”We talk about the fact that: `There’s times, Danielle, when you do need to take over.’ … But she’s also an unselfish player because on the defensive end she’s going to get after you as well.”
Raigyne Moncrief scored 15 points, while Sheila Boykin had 14 points and 11 rebounds for LSU.
Jennifer O’Neill scored 19 for Kentucky (15-4, 4-2), which lost for the second time in three games – the first loss coming at No. 1 South Carolina on Jan. 11, when starting Kentucky point guard Janee Thompson was lost for the season with a broken left leg.
”We just have to fight for a positive attitude right now,” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. ”Whatever we can use it as – a wake-up call or whatever – I don’t know if we’re unclear on us needing to improve. … I really need to do a good job here coaching moving forward.”
Linnae Harper had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Kentucky turned the ball over 26 times, leading to 27 LSU points.
”We didn’t value the ball very much today,” Mitchell said. ”We’ll certainly have to do a better job with that as we try to grow and progress from this game. But that really hurt us today-our turnovers.”
LSU, which had been scoring about 63 points per game as a team coming in, easily exceeded that against a Kentucky squad that came in allowing 67.1 points per game. The Lady Tigers 55-45 when Ballard’s jumper capped a 6-0 run.
But Kentucky wasn’t ready to capitulate yet. O’Neill’s 3 sparked a 12-5 spurt that pulled the Wildcats to 61-59. Kentucky briefly tied it at 62 on Bria Goss’ free throw, but LSU responded with a 9-1 run, capped by Rina Hill’s fast-break layup as she was fouled.
”I was so proud of our group having enough in them to make another run back at them,” Caldwell said.
LSU’s lead was back to double digits at 75-65 on Jasmine Rhodes’ driving layup in traffic with 4:29 left and Kentucky couldn’t recover.
Kentucky: The previous three times Kentucky was ranked in the top 10 when meeting LSU, the Wildcats lost. … The Wildcats were seeking their first victory in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center since 2010. … Kentucky shot 32.9 percent (23 of 70).
LSU: LSU shot 44.9 percent (31 of 69) and went 20 of 24 from the free throw line. … The Lady Tigers improved to 32-12 in the series all-time.
HARDEN HIT: Early in the second half, LSU’s DaShawn Harden was hit in the eye as she fell in the paint in a crowd of players on Lady Tigers’ defensive end. She stumbled directly back to the LSU bench and was helped to the locker room. Caldwell said she did not have an updated on her condition, but Harden’s teammates said they were determined to make sure she was not injured in vein.
”That right there just flipped a switch for us and we knew that from that moment on we’re not leaving here without this win,” Boykin said of Harden’s injury. ”Nothing could stop us at that point.”
Kentucky: At Missouri next Sunday.
LSU: Visits No. 6 Tennessee on Thursday.