April 16, 2024

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LSU rallies to reach Sweet 16 after Kim Mulkey tirade: 'I won't let a sleazy reporter distract us'

LSU rallies to reach Sweet 16 after Kim Mulkey tirade: 'I won't let a sleazy reporter distract us'

Despite ample evidence to the contrary, Kim Mulkey insists it's business as usual for LSU.

The Tigers rallied late to defeat Middle Tennessee State on Sunday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, officially clinching their spot in the Sweet 16 next weekend. However, the bout was largely secondary after Mulkey went off on a long, four-minute tirade the day before and threatened to sue The Washington Post.

At least, that was the feeling felt by everyone watching the movie even if Mulkey wouldn't admit it.

“I'm not going to let a sleazy reporter distract us from this tournament,” Mulkey said after the win. Via Corey Diaz of The Daily Advertiser. “I didn't tell my kids what I said. They're not involved in this.”

Mulkey may not have told her players what she said, but her comments were hard to avoid. Despite her belief, it certainly looked like the Tigers were down a little early in their NCAA Tournament second-round game Sunday afternoon.

Middle Tennessee State, which upset No. 6 Louisville in the first round, entered the locker room with a four-point lead after holding the Tigers to just 12 points in the second quarter. They opened the third quarter on a 5-0 run as well, and looked poised to surprise the Tigers at home — especially after LSU guard Hailey Van Lith was benched to start the third quarter.

But the blue raiders were quickly stopped. They held off just 13 points in the third period, then opened the fourth quarter on the wrong side of a 17-4 run. LSU opened the game quickly and cruised to an 83-56 win.

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Kim Mulkey came out and threatened to sue The Washington Post on Saturday over an apparently unpublished article about her.

Kim Mulkey came out and threatened to sue The Washington Post on Saturday over an apparently unpublished article about her. (AP/Gerald Herbert)

Savannah Wheeler led the Blue Raiders with 21 points and seven rebounds, and Tamia Scott added 15 points in the loss. They were the only two players to reach double figures. Flawjay Johnson led LSU with 21 points, and Angel Reyes finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Van Lith finished with just four points and shot 1-of-5 from the field.

While LSU has now gotten through its first two games with double-digit wins, the Tigers don't appear to be anywhere near as dominant as they have been, or even as they should be on paper. They had to hold off Rice late Friday in their opening-round match, and then Mulkey went on a rant on Saturday.

Mulkey, who spent more than two decades at Baylor before landing at LSU, threatened to sue The Washington Post over a story apparently in the works about her. Details regarding this article are not yet known, as it has not yet been published, but Mulkey claimed that the newspaper was speaking to disgruntled former players.

She also said the reporter in question had been working on the story for two years and repeatedly tried to interview her, but then claimed the reporter did not give her enough notice to comment after contacting her before their first NCAA Tournament game. Friday.

“I have hired the best defamation law firm in the country and I will sue The Washington Post if it publishes a false story about me,” Mulkey said Saturday. “Not many people are in a position to hold this type of journalist accountable, but I will do it.”

It's not clear when this story will appear or what it will say about Mulkey. Regardless, she will now have to turn her attention to the Sweet 16.

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The Tigers will face Creighton or UCLA on Saturday. Kaitlin Clark and top-seeded Iowa will face West Virginia on Monday night to try to secure the final spot in the Sweet 16 in the Albany Region 2 division.

When they focus and play together, there is no doubt that the Tigers can make it out of the region and return to the Final Four for the second straight time. But with the distractions surrounding the program, and how visibly bothered Mulkey is by outside noise, it's fair to question how much they can keep moving forward.