WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ Sports Sports en-us Copyright 2019, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Thu, 21 Mar 2019 HH:03:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 LSU basketball prepares for NCAA opener http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-basketball-prepares-for-ncaa-opener/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-basketball-prepares-for-ncaa-opener/ Sports Wed, 20 Mar 2019 11:38:20 PM Michael Cauble LSU basketball prepares for NCAA opener

JACKSONVILLE, FL - The LSU Tiger basketball team will tip off their NCAA Tournament run on Thursday morning with a 1st Round game against Yale.  It's LSU's first time back in the Big Dance in four years and many are not giving them a chance to advance given the recent controversy surrounding their suspended coach Will Wade and their early exit at the SEC Tournament.

On Wednesday prior to tipping off the Tigers met with the media in Jacksonville and here is a transcript of their questions and answers. 

Q. Tre, how far did you grow up from Yale in New Haven? And did you ever as a kid maybe think about playing there?
TREMONT WATERS: Yeah, I grew up about -- like if I had a strong enough arm, I could probably throw a rock to Yale's basketball facilities.

Growing up playing basketball, I didn't necessarily think about playing them in the tournament, but it's a great feeling to be able to make it this far and be able to play against someone who's from back home.

Q. I've heard you played some pickup games against some of those guys when you were in high school. Do you remember any of them?
TREMONT WATERS: I used to play on the same AAU team as Azar Swain and Jordan Bruner. He was a guy that was on his way there like to start his school process, but he had sat out one year, so we had put up a couple shots together. Nothing crazy, but yeah.

Q. This team, their starting five has four players that average double-digit scoring. They're a high-flying scoring offense as you guys are. How do you guys plan to keep up, or is the mindset kind of the same, you're going to try to stay the same and score, as well?
SKYLAR MAYS: Yeah, it's going to be a big challenge for us. You know, when you see that balance on the scoring end, that means they really pass the ball well, so everybody is a weapon. We're just going to try to stick to our defensive principles and try to make shots hard for them.

TREMONT WATERS: Yeah, obviously like when you come into this type of environment, you've got to play against guys who either push the ball, slow it down. It's just a bunch of type of different offensive schemes and defensive schemes. We can't shy away from what we've been doing as a program, we've just got to continue to do what our jobs are and just keep doing what we do.

Q. Miye Oni, obviously a scorer, the leader of this team. What have you seen from him on film and what makes him so difficult to guard?
SKYLAR MAYS: He's a great player. He's been an integral part of a team that's made it to the NCAA Tournament, so you can tell the talent that he brings, and he's unbelievable in transition. So we're going to try to keep him out of that, and again, just try to make shots hard for him.

Q. What have you guys learned from the SEC Tournament? Obviously that loss against Florida. What have you guys done over the last week to try and pre-prepare and refocus, especially know that Will Wade is not going to be here?
TREMONT WATERS: All season we've been saying, we are a family, we are going to grow together. Keep pushing through everything, all that adversity that's been thrown at us. But nothing has changed since the Florida game. It was a game that we lost. We didn't execute down the stretch, and we know that we have to come together as a family even more now because we don't have our head coach.

Coach Benford is our new head coach and everyone respects that. We totally loved the change of Coach Benford being there, Coach GH, Coach Armstrong. But like we say, we've just got to come together, just be one and not let anything break us apart.

Q. Not having your head coach, has it bonded you guys as a closer unit? What has it done to bring you guys closer as a basketball team?
SKYLAR MAYS: Yeah, you know, the ideal family is when one person is down, the other person has to pick them up. The huge part of our team and Coach Wade, with him being out, we knew that we'd have to come together even more, and we probably didn't show it as much in the Florida game, but looking at that film and learning from that loss, we understand that's going to be a big part of us being able to move further down in this tournament and getting past Yale.

Q. Now that y'all have worked with Coach Tony and Heiar and Armstrong as that collective co-coaches unit for a couple of weeks now, how are you getting used to that in terms of only having it for one day for the first game?
TREMONT WATERS: Well, they were a part of our coaching staff before, they were just an extension of Coach Wade, but now that Coach Benford is our actual head coach now, everyone is looking towards him, and he's putting a lot of -- not pressure, but he's putting a lot of trust into the players now and just holding each other accountable more because when Coach Wade was the coach, he had more say so. But now that we know we don't have him, everyone has been coming together. We've been in the gym shooting a lot more. Like we've been doing a lot of things together without the coaching staff pretty much forcing us to do it, like throughout practice and stuff.

I would just say that they're giving us a lot more freedom to see what we're going to do, and I would say we've stepped up to the challenge. We know that games aren't going to be easy. We've just got to go out, fight together and be brothers.

Q. Kind of following that up, with all the off-the-court stuff, how much do you guys think about that other than when you're in press conference here? During the day between practices, between games, is it on your mind, and does it anger you what people say about the program and about your coach?
SKYLAR MAYS: I think there's been a lot of outside stuff throughout the year and we've done a great job of keeping that stuff outside. You know, once we step on the court, and I think our record shows that. We should be able to continue to do that, and me and Tremont as leaders, we trust all these guys, and we've developed a great bond over the year, and we expect that bond to keep us together on the court.

Q. Obviously this is a different team than Florida, Florida more of a slow-it-down type of offense, and this one more of a high-speed offense. Coach Benford talked about how paint touches would be more important in this game. Without giving away the game plan, what do you think is an important to do in a game like this where it could be a shootout down the stretch?
TREMONT WATERS: I would say we have to get back in transition because Oni, he's a beast in transition. He likes to push the ball, get out, and their point guard, No. 3, he pushes the ball a lot, and as long as we're able to stop those two guys and pretty much play everyone else inside, then I feel like we have a pretty good chance to win the game.

Q. Skylar, I don't know if you saw, but ESPN rated all the coaches by their playing ability, and Coach Benford rated pretty high. Has he ever told you about what a great player he was, and does he still have any game?
SKYLAR MAYS: Yeah, he brings up how back in the day he got drafted by the Celtics, I believe, and said he was kicking butt back in the '80s. But he doesn't dwell on it too much. It was a long time ago.

Q. I don't know if you got asked this earlier, but being from New Haven, what do you know about Yale? Did you get recruited by Yale? Did you consider them? Some of the guys said you might play pick-up games.
TREMONT WATERS: Yeah, like I said before, if I had a strong enough arm, I could probably throw a rock to Yale's basketball facilities. That's where I started playing basketball. My dad got a membership to Payne Whitney gym, and it was like the local -- not local but the facility where everyone could go in, if you had a membership. So that's where I started. Actually one of my basketball videos, like my training videos is actually in their gym, and that's when I wasn't being recruited by them, so it wasn't a violation or anything.

Yeah, I just grew up playing there. Now that Azar Swain goes there, I actually grew up playing basketball with him for the CT Elite Basketball Club, and just knowing that I'm from New Haven and that this team is from New Haven, it's an honor to be able to play them in the first game of the March Madness NCAA Tournament.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, a few thoughts on the last weeks and how it's gone for your basketball team.

TONY BENFORD: Yeah, first of all, our guys have been great. They've been working extremely hard. We've had some great practices the last few days, really focused, especially after the SEC Tournament. After the loss to Florida, we gave the guys a couple of days off. Came back, had two really, really, I think, spirited practices. The guys are focused, looking forward to the opportunity to play here in the NCAA Tournament against a very quality Yale team, and we'll be prepared to play tomorrow.

Q. Naz Reid is a local guy for us. What's his development been like on and off the court?
TONY BENFORD: Great. I'll tell you what, I was just talking to another media person about Naz. Naz has lost 30 points since he joined us in June, and he's worked extremely hard. Out strength coach has done a great job with him. We all know about his skill set, but he's been very coachable, he's got a high IQ, he absorbs the scouting reports and our film sessions. He's really good, and I'll tell you what, with our big guys he's like a coach on the floor with our big guys. He's been good defensively. That's one area I think he's really improved is defensively. He's able to guard ball screens. You'll see Naz, we'll match him up sometimes on the wings. He's guarding 6'4", 6'5" wings.

I've been really pleased. He should be a lottery pick, in my opinion. I don't see how guys pass on a guy with that size and that skill set.

Q. Tony, given the unforeseen circumstances of the season, being thrown in so late, what does it mean having been a head coach so recently? Do you think it would be -- has it made the adjustment easier for you? And if you hadn't been, would it have been more difficult?
TONY BENFORD: That's a good question. First of all, we have a quality group. What I mean, a group of character kids, and they've really bought in. They've really taken ownership of their team. They've had to unfortunately go through a lot of adversity this year, losing one of their teammates in Wayde Sims, and that really made these guys a tighter knit group, brought them closer together, more trust and respect for one another, and it made easier for us to coach them. They dedicated the season to Wayde Sims. That's the reason we were able to win in overtime. Had six overtime games in the league and we were 5-1 in those games because of the closeness of this group.

For me to step in, Coach Wade really delegates a lot to our coaching staff. We have a great staff - Greg Heiar, who is ready to be a head coach. He was at Wichita State. He does a tremendous job. Then Bill Armstrong, who was in the SEC for 13 years. That's made it easier, having really good -- I say we're co-coaches but really other good coaches on the staff, and that's helped our transition and our relationship with our players.

Q. Following that up, how difficult has it been for you to not only try to coach a basketball team obviously but keep players focused on basketball as opposed to everything swirling around the program?
TONY BENFORD: Well, first of all, we talk about narrow focus, narrowing our focus, controlling -- we can't control the outside noise and what's going on. All we can control is our locker room and our huddle, and the players, they've taken ownership of the locker room. They're holding everyone accountable, their teammates accountable, too. So that's huge when you can narrow your focus. Kind of have to have tunnel vision and put blinders on. But they're aware of what's going on on the outside, but inside when we walk in those doors, hey, it's about preparing for -- for instance, Yale. We've got to prepare today, guys. We can't control what's going on on the outside.

Q. What are your thoughts about the program just being shown in such a negative light? And do you have any sense for what players think about it, but also what do you think about it?
TONY BENFORD: Well, I mean, in college athletics, things happen. That's just part of life, in any walk of life, any profession, things happen. So we can't worry about that right now. I'm just focused on these kids and making sure that we're prepared for Yale, and making sure that we're going to represent LSU the best way we can at this moment.

Q. I asked one of the players this: You saw ESPN ranked the coaches by their playing ability, and you ranked pretty high. You were not Chris Mullin, but one of the pretty good coaches in the tournament. I was just wondering if you had seen that, and what do you take from your playing days to help you relate to players and what they're going through and what they're thinking, that sort of thing?
TONY BENFORD: Yeah, that was about 100 pounds ago with that. But anyway, I saw that. One of my subs sent that to me.

But anyway, I had guys -- I played my senior year -- well, I played a couple years in the NCAA Tournament. I played at Texas Tech, and we lost a teammate, and I related this to my guys. We lost a teammate when I was in college while we were playing at the rec center on the floor, had a heart attack and died. That brought back -- I still stay in contact with those guys. That brought us closer together, that group that I played with. That's what I see with these guys. I shared my experience with these guys, and you can see like these guys have went through the adversity, obviously the adverse situation with losing Wayde that we've gone through there, a lot of people talk about being their brothers' keepers and all that stuff. These guys are living it. They are truly their brothers' keepers.

So we've got to continue to stay focused and continue to stay together.

Q. Tony, your history with the tournament, you know there's upsets happen in these early-round games. You're playing an early game tomorrow. What's your message to your team? How do you keep your team loose and not get tight as a top seed?
TONY BENFORD: Well, Yale is, first of all, they're well-coached. Coach Jones is a tremendous coach. He does a great job, and those guys are -- they have more experience. We have one guy that's been in the tournament. That's Kavell Bigby-Williams. They have five that have played in it just recently two years ago, and beat Baylor. They played Duke really, really close that second game I remember.

But you look at their numbers, they scare you. Offensively they're off the chart. They really push the basketball. But also defensively they're pretty sound. I think they're holding teams to 41 percent field goal percentage on defense. So they're a quality team.

But all we can control is what we do. We're not going to change a whole lot. That's one thing, I think, is we've kind of kept our routine the same. We've got to do a good job of pushing the tempo. They want to push the tempo. But we've got to do a good job, make sure we get back in transition defense and get to their shooters, and they've got some guys that can make some plays, obviously Oni and Copeland and Reynolds all can make plays.

So we've got to do a solid job defensively. We've got to be solid on our ball screen coverage, on the defensive end, and then we've got to rebound the ball, and then we've got to get on the glass. We're one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, so when a shot goes up, we've got to make sure we get on the glass, too, for the next possession.

Q. As a coach, you've obviously been thrown into a very unusual situation. How do you as a coach impart to 19, 20, 21-year-old kids trying to navigate this with all the outside noise that comes in with a situation like this? How have you handled that with them?
TONY BENFORD: Well, earlier I was just mentioning to a couple of the members in the chairs that we try to talk about today. We can't control what happened yesterday. But we're mindful of the fact that there's a lot of noise out there. You know that, but what we try to do is focus in on Yale right now. That's what we've done, preparing for Yale, and we've talked about that. Unfortunately guys have great leadership in Skylar Mays, Tremont Waters. You guys just visited with those guys. Kavell Bigby has been a great leader for us. So we just really try to have tunnel vision and just concentrate on the task at hand, and that's to play a really good Yale team.

Q. Has it become maybe a little bit easier now as time goes on, maybe I'm sure the first few days it happened, there might have been a little more of a chaotic feel to it, but has it become easier has time has moved on?
TONY BENFORD: Well, I don't know about easier, but it's helped, and I think we're settled into a routine I guess is the right answer to that. I think our guys -- we haven't changed our routine at all as far as our preparation and as far as the amount of time we spend with our guys and stuff. I don't think it's gotten easier, but the guys I think now are accustomed that Coach is not around right now. They're hearing my voice, Coach Heiar's voice and Coach Armstrong, and they understand that.

And then again, I just get back to the ownership. I think every championship team that I've been a part of, associated with, it's always about the players. Players have taken ownership of their teams, and that's the reason we were able to win the SEC championship is because of our players.

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Tigers walk-off Nicholls for thrilling win at the Box http://www.wbrz.com/news/tigers-walk-off-nicholls-for-thrilling-win-at-the-box/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/tigers-walk-off-nicholls-for-thrilling-win-at-the-box/ Sports Wed, 20 Mar 2019 11:30:20 PM Tigers walk-off Nicholls for thrilling win at the Box

BATON ROUGE, La. - Sophomore left fielder Daniel Cabrera slapped an RBI double off of the right field wall to lift the No. 7 LSU baseball team to a 5-4 win against Nicholls in walk-off fashion Wednesday night in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. 

Right fielder Antoine Duplantis was walked to start the bottom of the 10th. He advanced to second on a wild pitch before Cabrera doubled to right field to bring Duplantis home and seal the win for the Tigers.

“It was a great victory for the Tigers,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Nicholls played so well, and (Nicholls coach) Seth Thibodeaux did an outstanding job in managing his team. I thought we were ready to play, but we kind of struggled through the first three innings of the game. Fortunately, we were able to hang in there and come through with clutch hits at the end of the game.”

Nicholls took a 4-3 lead in the ninth on a home run by Tarver.

Pinch hitter Drew Bianco drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, and stole second to set up a scoring opportunity for the Tigers. Chris Reid then pinch hit for Brandt Broussard, and dropped a double into left-center to score Bianco and tie the game back up, 4-4. 

“What can you say about Chris Reid?” Mainieri asked. “We wanted to give him the night off because he has a sore forearm, but we needed him with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and he ropes a double to tie up the game.”

A RBI double from Cabrera scored Duplantis and gave LSU the 5-4 victory.

“Daniel hit a rocket, and Antoine didn’t have a great read on it,” Mainieri explained. “Fortunately, the ball ricocheted off the wall really hard, and Antoine was able to score.”

The Tigers used six pitchers out of the bullpen . Sophomore Ma’Khail Hilliard came in to start the third and tossed two innings. He notched two strikeouts and did not allow any hits or runs. Freshman Chase Costello took over on the mound in fifth inning and went two innings, allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts.

With the win, LSU improves to 16-5 on the season, and Nicholls drops to 11-11.

LSU will return to action Friday at 6 p.m. CT for the first game of a three-game series at Georgia.

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LSU officials approve contract extension for Coach Ed Orgeron http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-officials-approve-contract-extension-for-coach-ed-orgeron/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-officials-approve-contract-extension-for-coach-ed-orgeron/ Sports Mon, 18 Mar 2019 1:19:31 PM WBRZ Staff LSU officials approve contract extension for Coach Ed Orgeron

BATON ROUGE - LSU's Board of Supervisors has approved high-paying, two-year extension for the Tigers' head football coach.

The board passed the item during its meeting Wednesday. The move extends Orgeron's contract with LSU through 2023 and grows his salary from $3.5 million to $4 million.

His previous contract was set to expire at the end of 2021.

The extension comes just months after the Tigers closed out the 2018 season at 10-3 with a win over UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. LSU finished the year ranked #6 in AP's final top 25 poll.

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ESPN seemingly leaks women's NCAA bracket hours early http://www.wbrz.com/news/espn-seemingly-leaks-women-s-ncaa-bracket-hours-early/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/espn-seemingly-leaks-women-s-ncaa-bracket-hours-early/ Sports Mon, 18 Mar 2019 4:02:05 PM WBRZ Staff ESPN seemingly leaks women's NCAA bracket hours early

An apparent graphics error caused ESPN to accidentally air the bracket for the NCAA Women's basketball tournament early.

The tournament bracket was set to be unveiled on the network at 7 p.m. Monday, but viewers caught a glimpse at the seeding when on pre-show coverage around 3 p.m.

The bracket wasn't up for long, but viewers were able to snap pictures and put that together into an earlier preview of the full bracket.

You can find the full seeding below via Yahoo! Sports.

Albany region

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 16 Robert Morris

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Kansas State

No. 5 Gonzaga vs. No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock

No. 4 Oregon State vs. No. 13 Boise State

No. 6 UCLA vs. No. 11 Tennessee

No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 14 Radford

No. 7 Rutgers vs. No. 10 Buffalo

No. 2 UConn vs. No. 15 Towson

Chicago region

No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 16 Bethune Cookman

No. 8 Central Michigan vs. No. 9 Michigan State

No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 12 Rice

No. 4 Texas A&M vs. No. 13 Wright State

No. 6 DePaul vs. No. 11 Missouri State

No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 14 New Mexico State

No. 7 BYU vs. No. 10 Auburn

No. 2 Stanford vs. No. 15 UC Davis

Portland region

No. 1 Mississippi State vs. No. 16 Southern

No. 8 South Dakota vs. No. 9 Clemson

No. 5 Arizona State vs. No. 12 UCF

No. 4 Miami vs. No. 13 Florida Gulf Coast

No. 6 South Dakota State vs. No. 11 Quinnipiac

No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Fordham

No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 Indiana

No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 15 Portland State

Greensboro region

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Abilene Christian

No. 8 Cal vs. No. 9 North Carolina

No. 5 Florida State vs. No. 12 Bucknell

No. 4 South Carolina vs. No. 13 Belmont

No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 11 Princeton

No. 3 NC State vs. No. 14 Maine

No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Drake

No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 Mercer

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MARCH MADNESS: LSU tournament-bound as #3 seed, will play Yale Thursday http://www.wbrz.com/news/march-madness-lsu-tournament-bound-as-3-seed-will-play-yale-thursday/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/march-madness-lsu-tournament-bound-as-3-seed-will-play-yale-thursday/ Sports Sun, 17 Mar 2019 4:23:34 PM Nadeen Abusada MARCH MADNESS: LSU tournament-bound as #3 seed, will play Yale Thursday

BATON ROUGE - LSU is the third seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament and will play #14 seed Yale this Thursday in Jacksonville Florida.

If LSU defeats Yale they will then go on to play the winner of #6 seed Maryland and the 11 seed play-in game in Dayton between Belmont and Temple in the second round.

The game will be played at 11:40 a.m. Thursday on TRUTV.

This is the first time that the Tigers are in the NCAA tournament since 2015.


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No. 10 LSU completes series sweep against Kentucky http://www.wbrz.com/news/no-10-lsu-completes-series-sweep-against-kentucky/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/no-10-lsu-completes-series-sweep-against-kentucky/ Sports Sun, 17 Mar 2019 8:37:18 PM Mike Gaither No. 10 LSU completes series sweep against Kentucky

BATON ROUGE - The 10th ranked LSU Tigers completed the series sweep over Kentucky with a 7-2 win on Sunday at Alex Box Stadium. More importantly, head coach Paul Mainieri may have found the answers he's been searching for regarding a three-man rotation.  

LSU entered the series with the highest ERA in the SEC, but this weekend the Tigers staff allowed only seven runs over 30 innings.

On Sunday Eric Walker turned in his best start since Tommy John surgery. He allowed one run on three hits and struck out five in 4.1 innings. Matthew Beck (2-0) earned the win for the tigers after blanking Kentucky over 2.1 innings.

“Eric’s fastball command has been really good,” said LSU assistant coach Nolan Cain. “He was spotting the fastball, getting some swing-and-misses by elevating the fastball when hitters were expecting a breaking ball or a change-up.

In the fifth inning LSU opened with three consecutive hits and scored three runs in that frame. LSU then broke the game open in the seventh inning courtesy of a two-run triple off the bat of Antoine Duplantis. He leads the entire Tiger lineup with 28 RBI's this season. 

“That was a really big at-bat for Antoine,” Cain said. “We were thinking about possibly bunting there, but Antoine hits a ball off the wall, and if the wind is not blowing in, that’s his sixth homer of the season. The thing about Antoine is that he’s going to have deep at-bats, and once he sees a pitch a couple of times, he’s going to be on it.”

LSU will return to action Wednesday night against Nicholls State. 

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Late grand slam lifts No. 7 Florida to 4-3 win over No. 9 LSU http://www.wbrz.com/news/late-grand-slam-lifts-no-7-florida-to-4-3-win-over-no-9-lsu/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/late-grand-slam-lifts-no-7-florida-to-4-3-win-over-no-9-lsu/ Sports Sat, 16 Mar 2019 9:46:18 PM Mike Gaither Late grand slam lifts No. 7 Florida to 4-3 win over No. 9 LSU

BATON ROUGE - LSU's Shelbi Sunseri was one out away from a complete game shut out, that's when Florida's Kendyl Lindaman belted a grand slam deep to left center wiping out the Tigers 1-0 lead. LSU fought back in the bottom half of the seventh courtesy of a two-run blast by Amber Serrett, but the grand slam proved to be too much to overcome as Florida stole a 4-3 game one victory at Tiger Park on Saturday.

Sunseri took the loss in the circle, falling to 6-4 on the season. She finished with two strikeouts and allowed three hits, including one through the first six innings. 

Torina's Thoughts

On competitiveness of game...

“You know it’s going to be a chess match when you’re playing someone of this caliber. That’s the fun part about it, just trying to figure where they’re at, what they’re looking for and just trying to do the opposite. The strategy of it as a coach is fun. These coaches in the SEC are so good. They really make you up your game and challenge you as a coach.”

On two run homerun in the bottom of the 7th...

“I loved their fight, they could have gave in but they never did that. I loved their fight at the end of the game. Hopefully that carries through the series. We are still in this thing."

On going into the game tomorrow...

“I think they just want to win this series and they know that they can still do it. They got to do it one pitch at a time, got to execute. They are still confident they can pull it off.”

Game Notes

  • Sunseri has now reached base safely in all 28 games on the year. 
  • The Tigers have now scored first in the last ten games. 
  • The 2,771 fans that attended the game was the fifth-largest crowd in program history. 

On Deck

The Tigers will take on Florida Sunday at 4 p.m. in Tiger Park for the second game of the series. The game will air live on SEC Network.

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Tigers walk-off in 12-inning win against Kentucky http://www.wbrz.com/news/tigers-walk-off-in-12-inning-win-against-kentucky/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/tigers-walk-off-in-12-inning-win-against-kentucky/ Sports Sat, 16 Mar 2019 7:03:53 PM Mike Gaither Tigers walk-off in 12-inning win against Kentucky

BATON ROUGE - Game one between No. 10 LSU and Kentucky featured a good old fashioned pitchers duel in the SEC opener on Saturday at Alex Box Stadium. After 11 innings of back-and-forth baseball, true freshman Giovanni DiGiacomo drew a bases loaded walk to win it for the Tigers, 2-1 in the bottom of the 12th.

Kentucky Ace Zack Thompson stymied the Tiger bats through seven innings. Thompson, one of the SEC's best pitchers piled up nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings. 

Meanwhile LSU ace Zack Hess finally put together his first quality start of the season. After a shaky first inning, Hess settled in firing six consecutive scoreless innings and struck out six. 

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Southern Lady Jags punch ticket to NCAA tournament with 45-41 win in SWAC championship http://www.wbrz.com/news/southern-lady-jags-punch-ticket-to-ncaa-tournament-with-45-41-win-in-swac-championship-118536/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/southern-lady-jags-punch-ticket-to-ncaa-tournament-with-45-41-win-in-swac-championship-118536/ Sports Sat, 16 Mar 2019 3:46:46 PM Mike Gaither Southern Lady Jags punch ticket to NCAA tournament with 45-41 win in SWAC championship

BIRMINGHAM - The top-seeded Southern Lady Jaguars punched their ticket to the big dance by knocking off Jackson State, 45-41, in Saturday's SWAC championship in Birmingham. First year head coach Carlos Funchess will now take Southern to it's first NCAA tournament since the 2010 season. 

Alyric Scott scored 12 of her 14 points after halftime and hauled down 15 rebounds while Courtney Parsons added nine points and seven assists for the Jaguars (20-12).

The selection show for the 2019 NCAA women’s basketball tournament is right around the corner. You can watch it at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, March 18, on ESPN. 

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LSU's Javonte Smart cleared to play in SEC tournament http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-s-javonte-smart-cleared-to-play-in-sec-tournament/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-s-javonte-smart-cleared-to-play-in-sec-tournament/ Sports Fri, 15 Mar 2019 9:55:23 AM WBRZ Staff LSU's Javonte Smart cleared to play in SEC tournament

NASHVILLE -  LSU has cleared freshman Javonte Smart for Friday's game against the University of Florida in the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Officials say Smart has "fully cooperated" and participated in a joint inquiry with LSU and the NCAA resulting from reports of wiretapped conversations purportedly involving head coach Will Wade.

Smart was held out of the regular season finale against Vanderbilt out of an "abundance of caution" in cooperation with the NCAA.

"Though the inquiry is not closed, after multiple additional interviews, there has been no wrongdoing identified to date" LSU said in a statement. "As a result, and because of his full cooperation and transparency in this matter, Smart has been cleared by university officials for play on Friday.

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LSU baseball belts way to win over Texas Southern http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-baseball-belts-way-to-win-over-texas-southern/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-baseball-belts-way-to-win-over-texas-southern/ Sports Wed, 13 Mar 2019 10:17:44 PM Michael Cauble LSU baseball belts way to win over Texas Southern

On a challenging night off the field, the LSU Tiger baseball team responded with relative ease on the field for a 16-5 win over Texas Southern on Wedneday night at Alex Box Stadium.

Tiger head coach Paul Mainieri's father died earlier in the day, however he showed up for the game and his team did their best to do their part by belting out 18 hits and scoring in all but three innings.

LSU centerfielder Zach Watson led the Tigers at the plate with a 4-for-4 night with three RBIs, one double, one home run and three runs scored. 

“Our hitters came out tonight and had some great at-bats,” said LSU associate head coach Alan Dunn. “What they did tonight got us on a roll, and we were able to come away with a very good win heading into SEC play.

“We’re ready to start that 30-game, SEC grind. You’ve got to bring your A-game every weekend, and I think our guys are ready to take on this challenge. We need to play our best, beginning this weekend against Kentucky.”

 The Tigers will start SEC play on Friday night when they host Kentucky at the Box. 

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LSU baseball falls on the road to Northwestern St. http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-baseball-falls-on-the-road-to-northwestern-st-/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-baseball-falls-on-the-road-to-northwestern-st-/ Sports Tue, 12 Mar 2019 11:17:22 PM Michael Cauble LSU baseball falls on the road to Northwestern St.

NATCHITOCHES – The LSU Tiger baseball team got the pitching performances they were looking for, but their offense struggled against the Northwestern State Demons on Tuesday night Field falling 3-1 at Brown-Stroud Field.

LSU (11-5) could not solve Demons starting pitcher Cullen McDonald who threw 7.2 innings allowing just one run.  

“You have to tip your hat to their pitcher (Cullen McDonald),” head coach Paul Mainieri said. “He made a lot of big pitches tonight. He threw strikes and kept us totally off balance. We had a chance in the eighth, and we just couldn’t get the hit. This is the third game in a row that we have basically pitched a shutout except for one bad inning that we gave up a crooked number. When you’re not scoring any runs, that one inning can cost you a ball game, and it did tonight.” 

Starting pitcher Landon Marceaux and Ma’Khail Hilliard combined for five innings of shutout ball allowing just one hit.

The Tigers led 1-0 in the sixth inning when the Demons scored three runs to take the lead.  LSU reliever Aaron George suffered the loss after allowing three runs on two hits and one walk in the sixth inning. 

LSU will host Texas Southern Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. CT in Alex Box Stadium. 

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LSU Basketball climbs to #9 in AP poll after claiming SEC title http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-basketball-climbs-to-9-in-ap-poll-after-claiming-sec-title/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-basketball-climbs-to-9-in-ap-poll-after-claiming-sec-title/ Sports Mon, 11 Mar 2019 12:31:21 PM WBRZ Staff LSU Basketball climbs to #9 in AP poll after claiming SEC title

BATON ROUGE - Despite a tumultuous week off the court, the LSU Men's Basketball team finished strong with an SEC title-clinching win over Vanderbilt and another bump in the AP top 25 poll.

The Tigers' blowout win over the 9-22 Commodores was enough to propel the purple and gold to a conference-best 16-2. LSU will begin SEC tournament play Friday after earning a double-bye.

LSU's triumph came a day after Wade's indefinite suspension in the wake of published excerpts of a wire-tapped phone call between the coach and a man convicted last year in federal court of funneling illegal payments to the families of college basketball recruits.

LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva was met with boos and chants of "Joe must go!" from the student section and a few other corners of the arena when he arrived at the PMAC Saturday.

Many fans also held up signs reading, "Free Will Wade," and "Free Javonte Smart," the freshman guard and former Louisiana player of the year who apparently was referred to in the 2017 call recorded by the FBI.

You can see the full top 25 below.

1, Gonzaga, 29-2
2, Virginia, 28-2
3, North Carolina, 26-5
4, Kentucky, 26-5
5, Duke, 26-5
6, Michigan State, 25-6
7, Texas Tech, 26-5
8, Tennessee, 27-4
9, LSU, 26-5
10, Michigan, 26-5
11, Houston, 29-2
12, Florida State, 25-6
13, Purdue, 23-8
14, Nevada, 28-3
15, Kansas State, 24-7
16, Virginia Tech, 23-7
17, Kansas, 23-8
18, Buffalo, 28-3
19, Wisconsin, 22-9
20, Wofford, 28-4
21, Maryland, 22-9
22, Auburn, 22-9
23, Marquette, 23-8
24, Cincinnati, 25-6
25, Villanova, 22-9

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LSU guard Javonte Smart won't play vs Vanderbilt http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-guard-javonte-smart-won-t-play-vs-vanderbilt/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-guard-javonte-smart-won-t-play-vs-vanderbilt/ Sports Sat, 9 Mar 2019 12:50:59 PM Mike Gaither LSU guard Javonte Smart won't play vs Vanderbilt

BATON ROUGE - LSU freshman guard Javonte Smart will not play Saturday against Vanderbilt the university's athletics department announced Saturday.

Smart's name has been tied to the alleged involvement in a pay-for-play scandal that is being investigated by the FBI. However, the university said the decision to bench Smart is not meant to suggest any wrongdoing on the player's part, adding that it was only done "in an abundance of caution."

On Friday, the LSU administration suspended head coach Will Wade indefinitely after refusing to meet with LSU administrators to discuss the allegations.

According to a Yahoo! report, FBI wire-taps captured phone conversations between Will Wade and middleman Christian Dawkins talking about "taking care of" a player and his family. Wade reportedly referred to the player only as "Smart" in the conversations.

Smart is fourth on the team in scoring averaging 11.5 points per game. He is also third on the team in minutes per game behind only Skylar Mays and Tremont Waters.

Below is part of the transcript ESPN and Yahoo detailed regarding Will Wade and Dawkins wiretapped conversation.

“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”

The specifics of the “Smart thing” are unknown. Smart was a top-50 recruit coming out of Scotlandville High School and was also heavy on the radar of blue blood programs like Kentucky.

“Dude,” Wade continued in the call, referring to the third party involved in the recruitment. “I went to him with a [expletive] strong-ass offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong.

“The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now. It was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit,” Wade continued. “It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like it was tilted towards that. Now I know for a fact he didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”

LSU athletics released the following statement:

Javonte Smart will be held from today’s game against Vanderbilt. This is done only in an abundance of caution and as a result of the lack of clarity provided regarding media reports and reported wiretaps involving Head Coach Will Wade. This decision does not suggest, in any way, wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing on Javonte’s part or his family. Javonte and his family have been fully cooperative and open with university officials. The decision to hold Javonte from today’s game is a difficult and disappointing one for everyone involved. Javonte is a valuable member of the team, the university and the LSU family. The university and NCAA continue to review the matter in order to come to a resolution as quickly as possible.


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Tigers walk off on Josh Smith two-run single in the ninth http://www.wbrz.com/news/tigers-walk-off-on-josh-smith-two-run-single-in-the-ninth/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/tigers-walk-off-on-josh-smith-two-run-single-in-the-ninth/ Sports Fri, 8 Mar 2019 11:30:24 PM Mike Gaither Tigers walk off on Josh Smith two-run single in the ninth

BATON ROUGE - With the bases loaded and two outs Josh Smith dumped a walk-off two-run single into shallow center field Friday night as the Tigers' escaped with a wild 4-3 win. 

“This is so great about baseball,” Mainieri said. “You can’t get too down on yourself because you always get another chance.”

Before the Smith at-bat LSU's one through four batters were a combined 1-for-16 on the night. Cal’s starter Armani Sabouri wiped out the Tigers lineup, allowing just a walk and a hit in five innings. 

Meanwhile Zack Hess’ turned it his best outing of the season. Despite the first batter launching a solo-shot in the first inning, Hess calmed down and found his groove. He struck out five and allowed two earned—on five hits.

LSU will play a double-header tomorrow against Cal starting at 1 p.m. The second game begins 45 minutes following the completion of the first. Right-hander Cole Henry will start game two followed by Eric Walker.

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Two perfect 10s push LSU Gymnastics past Oregon State http://www.wbrz.com/news/two-perfect-10s-push-lsu-gymnastics-past-oregon-state/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/two-perfect-10s-push-lsu-gymnastics-past-oregon-state/ Sports Fri, 8 Mar 2019 11:18:08 PM Reggie Chatman Two perfect 10s push LSU Gymnastics past Oregon State

BATON ROUGE- LSU scored a season high score of 198.150 to beat Oregon State Friday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers celebrated senior night as Julianna Cannamela, McKenna Kelley, Lexie Priessman, and Sarah Finnegan competed in their last home regular season meet of their LSU career and went out with a bang.

Finnegan won her 10th All-Around title of the season after scoring 39.800.

The meet was capped off with back-to-back perfect scores in the final rotation on floor from Kennedi Edney and McKenna Kelley. 

The Tigers improve to 10-3 on the year and will next travel to the Mckale Center in Tucson, Arizona to take on the Arizona Wildcats at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 15th. 

“We asked the kids to just have fun and not get caught up in senior night and they did that. They relaxed, performed and gave it all they have. There was so many incredible performances and so much enthusiasm, passion and pride in what they did. This was LSU Gymnastics and the best of this sport,” said head coach D-D Breaux. 

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LSU Women's Basketball bounced out of SEC Tournament http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-women-s-basketball-bounced-out-of-sec-tournament/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-women-s-basketball-bounced-out-of-sec-tournament/ Sports Thu, 7 Mar 2019 10:46:15 PM Reggie Chatman LSU Women's Basketball bounced out of SEC Tournament

GREENVILLE-  No. 9-seeded LSU Women's basketball lost 69-66 in the second round of the 2019 SEC Tournament against Tennessee on Thursday.

Khyla Pointer led the all-scorers with 21 points in the loss while Ayana Mitchell pitched in 16 points and 11 rebounds to secure her 16th double-double of the season.

The Tigers are now 16-13 this season and finish in 8th place in the SEC at 7-9.

“We’re going to take every game and we try to get better,” said LSU head coach Nikki Fargas. “That’s what these young ladies are doing. They’re learning how to compete on this stage. They’re going to get better.”

Up next LSU will have to wait until March 18 to see if they will make the NCAA Tournament.

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LSU head coach Will Wade makes statement following suspension http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-head-coach-will-wade-makes-statement-following-suspension/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-head-coach-will-wade-makes-statement-following-suspension/ Sports Thu, 7 Mar 2019 1:30:14 PM WBRZ Staff LSU head coach Will Wade makes statement following suspension

BATON ROUGE- Will Wade has spoken out following his suspension from LSU. The suspended head coach tells WBRZ that he cannot comment on the reports, but they do not tell the whole story:

"Serving as the Head Basketball Coach at LSU has been the honor of my life.  I love this university and all it stands for. From day one, I’ve been focused on building a winning program made up of excellent coaches and staff and a team of first-rate student athletes. 

I cannot comment at this time on various media reports, except to say that they do not begin to tell the full story.  I understand the University had to take action before all the facts are in, but I would ask everyone to withhold their judgment until the record is complete. 

To my players and coaches, I support you 100%, and I will be with you in spirit as the season progresses.  Your best response to this is to narrow your focus and make sure the last part of the season is the strongest part!"

According to LSU, coach Will Wade has been suspended indefinitely following media reports of a wiretap investigation.

LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander and Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva released the following statement Friday:

“Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to all of us. As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address this situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step. They have our full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all facts and information on this matter.

All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim head coach.”

A 2017 phone conversation between LSU basketball coach Will Wade and a middleman tied up in allegations of illegal recruiting tactics features Wade discussing a "strong-ass offer" he made in the recruitment of a prospect, Yahoo Sports reports.

The call between Wade and Christian Dawkins was reportedly intercepted by the FBI and includes a frustrated Wade complaining that another party affiliated with the recruitment had not accepted his "offer." According to the Yahoo report, Wade theorized a verbal commitment to LSU was being delayed because he hadn't given that third party a big “enough piece of the pie in the deal” and instead “tilted” the offer toward the player and his mother.

“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”

There was no explanation of what the "Smart thing" is, though Javonte Smart is currently a freshman guard at LSU and formerly a top-50 recruit from Baton Rouge.

Wade declined to comment on the story Thursday afternoon, saying he hadn't yet seen it.

Dawkins is known to have been on FBI wiretaps during the late spring and summer of 2017. Previous reports from ESPN cited that Dawkins made at least three calls to a cellphone number belonging in June 2017. Smart announced his commitment to LSU on June 30.

The tapes don't mention any specifics of the "offer" or if it violated NCAA rules.

Defense attorneys are in the process of formally filing subpoenas for both Wade and Arizona coach Sean Miller to testify for the defense at the second trial Dawkins. The defense will try to show through wiretapped phone calls and direct testimony from the coaches that Dawkins and another associate were not attempting to bribe the coaches to gain an inside track on signing their NBA-bound talent.

You can read the full Yahoo Sports report here.

SEC Commissioner Greg Stanley committed on the suspension stating he agrees with the decision. He said the reports are disturbing, but the SEC plans to do whatever they can to help. 

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LSU Baseball snaps 3 game losing streak against Holy Cross http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-baseball-snaps-3-game-losing-streak-against-holy-cross/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-baseball-snaps-3-game-losing-streak-against-holy-cross/ Sports Wed, 6 Mar 2019 10:18:20 PM Reggie Chatman LSU Baseball snaps 3 game losing streak against Holy Cross

BATON ROUGE- LSU Baseball hit 3 home runs to help lead them past Holy Cross 9-2 on Wednesday night at Alex Box Stadium

Sophomore pitcher Ma'Khail Hilliard got the start for LSU and struggled giving up a home run to the second batter of the game. He pitched 1.1 innings and gave up 2 runs.

In the bottom half of the first inning, outfielder Antoine Duplantis tied the game at 1 with a solo home run.

With the score tied at 2 in the fourth inning, sophomore outfielder Daniel Cabrera crushed a solo home run to right center field to give LSU a 2-1 lead.

The Tigers kept up the momentum scoring 4-runs in the 5th inning, and 1-run in both the 6th and the 7th inning including a 6th inning home run from Brock Mathis.

Up next, LSU will host a three game series against Cal at Alex Box Stadium.

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LSU basketball wins in overtime at Florida http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-basketball-wins-in-overtime-at-florida/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-basketball-wins-in-overtime-at-florida/ Sports Wed, 6 Mar 2019 8:31:37 PM Michael Cauble LSU basketball wins in overtime at Florida

GAINSEVILLE, FL - The LSU Tigers survived a late-game thriller from the Florida Gators to win their ninth road game in SEC play on Wednesday night in the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.

For the second time in two weeks these two teams pushed the game to overtime before LSU settled it and won 79-78.

The Tigers stay atop the SEC standings and will play for their first SEC regular season crown in ten years when they host Vanderbilt on Saturday night in the Maravich Center. 

More on this thrilling win when my heart meds kick in later. 

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