Tigers Need To Finish Off SEC Schedule Strongly

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LSU In Danger Of Missing NCAA Tournament

By John Ventola

LSU went down to the wire before losing to No. 1 Oklahoma Saturday at the PMAC. It was the Tigers’ eighth defeat of the season as the team continues to befuddle basketball experts with losing efforts. While a victory over the talented Sooners was not expected, the loss continued a pattern of second half collapses by the team, which features the top recruit in the nation, Ben Simmons.

Although the Tigers have only lost one game by a large margin, Texas A & M by 14 at College Station, the non-existence of coaching strategy down the stretch has been

LSU

Lack of Strategy Down Stretch Again Dooms Tigers

paramount in all the losses. Coach Johnny Jones seems clueless as he stands courtside, arms folded, as his talented hoopsters take ill-advised shots, turn the basketball over, and clank free throws in the clutch.

Saturday furthered the idea that Jones can recruit (he had talent on the court), but fails miserably in using talent to win key games. LSU blew a 14-point second half lead, Simmons was underused once again, and marginal, substitute players jacked up shots in key situations. Missed shots by Aaron Epps and Jalyn Patterson with the game on the line helped the Sooners come back from the deficit.

Simmons only shot the ball twice in the first half, making both shots, as LSU rushed out to a 44-36 halftime lead behind the shooting of Tim Quarterman (he was four for four on 3-point field goals in the half), and the inside work of Craig Victor. Simmons came out and scored three early field goals to start the second half, but after making another shot minutes later, he only shot once more in the game’s final ten minutes—a miss.

The 6-10 Australian made six of seven shots, had nine rebounds, five assists, and two steals. The talent is evident. The questions remain, ‘why is Ben Simmons not more

LSU

Simmons Too Passive In “Crunch Time”

involved in the game? Why is Simmons so passive?’

Oklahoma All American, senior guard Buddy Hield, scored 32 points to pace the Sooners  spotting up and hitting eight threes in the game. The Okies hit a combined 14 of 29 (48%)from three-point range as Tiger defenders seemed to always be a split second late on ball rotations. The long range shooting of Hield and Isaiah Cousins more than offset the shooting of Quarterman and Antonio Blakeney, who combined went 8 for 10.

Victor and Oklahoma big-man Ryan Spangler battled early in the game, both making nice plays around the basket. Spangler finished with 16 points and was instrumental in keeping Simmons from driving the lane.

LSU goes into the last ten games of their SEC schedule with a 13-8 overall record and a 6-2 conference ledger. The underachieving Bengals need to step it up down the

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Final Ten SEC Games, Tourney, Will Determine NCAA Bid

stretch or else they will find themselves making NIT plans, a large disappointment for a team with the nation’s top recruit and other talented cagers.

Lon Krueger, the much traveled Oklahoma mentor, called well-timed time-outs, and seemed to have his team running a set offense during the comeback. The game, to me, was reminiscent of the 1987 NCAA playoff game between LSU and Indiana. I got the idea that Krueger, much like Bobby Knight did in that game, was not worried much because he knew if the game came down to strategy, he was far above Jones. Knight had it right about Dale Brown, and Krueger was correct about Jones.

Quite simply, what coach would let guys like Epps and Patterson throw up shots in “crunch time” while Simmons becomes a spectator camped out around the free throw line? Why not have your team coached well enough that when they lose the tie with 3.8 seconds left, they quickly advance the ball to half court, and then use a final time out?

Sure students and fans threw ice on the court after Quarterman tried to play hero with a drive to the goal (batted away by Sooner Khadeem Latin). The cups, and the anguish, should have been directed at the good recruiter/incompetent coach as he left the court.

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