A scary-looking injury to LSU’s DaShawn Harden on Sunday against Kentucky wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but the senior guard is questionable to play Thursday when LSU visits No. 5 Tennessee.
Harden left the game with 15:27 left in the game after taking an elbow to the eye, LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said Tuesday. She crumpled to her knees when she reached the bench and did not return after scoring just four points.
Caldwell said Harden didn’t suffer any fractures because of the injury.
The elbow really caused quite a bit of swelling,” Caldwell said. “We’re going to keep a close eye on that.”
Harden has been LSU’s leading scorer all season until now, averaging 11.5 points per game.
Tipoff between the Lady Tigers (10-8, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) and Lady Volunteers (15-3, 5-0) is set for 6 p.m. on the SEC Network.
“We’re very hopeful we’ll be able to see DaShawn Harden back in action,” Caldwell said.
USBWA honors Ballard
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 No. 15 Mississippi State and a career-high-tying 25 points Sunday in an 84-79 win over 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.
With a 10-8 overall record LSU still isn’t regarded as worthy of an NCAA tournament berth, but ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme believes the Lady Tigers are getting closer.
In his latest NCAA women’s tournament bracketology, released Monday, Creme has LSU as one of the “next four out” among bubble teams after the “last four in” and “first four out.”
The Lady Tigers’ two upset wins last week moved them up from No. 98 to No. 87 in this week’s official NCAA RPI. LSU also received votes in The Associated Press top 25 and USA Today coaches’ poll, though LSU finished well outside the rankings.
Creme has Tulane (15-3, 6-1 American Athletic Conference after Tuesday’s 73-34 win over Tulsa) one of the last four teams in. He has the Green Wave as a No. 11 seed in the Spokane regional.
No replacement games
Caldwell said at this point LSU is unlikely to replace the two canceled games it lost in the ill-fated Hardwood Tournament of Hope in November in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
LSU was supposed to play three games there Thanksgiving weekend but only played Santa Clara in a 69-67 loss.
Games against Kansas State and UTEP were canceled after the tournament promoter ran into major contractual issues putting on the event.
LSU considered trying to reschedule at least one game against either K-State or UTEP, but Caldwell said that doesn’t appear feasible now.
Rather than add a game against a lower-ranked team that could hurt LSU’s RPI, Caldwell said the Lady Tigers will stick to the schedule as is.
“At this point with us being in the SEC and looking at the strength of our conference, and our ability to move our RPI by playing in the SEC, we feel that’s going to be pretty much enough as far as the NCAA looking at us,” Caldwell said.
LSU has 10 games remaining, which will leave the Lady Tigers with a 28-game regular-season schedule.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.