Where has this LSU team been all season?
Why have the Tigers shown up and played like this every night out? Why are they losing at Alabama and at Ole Miss? Why did they get drubbed by Tennessee and lose to Rhode Island in the very same building that they mollywhopped No. 11 Kentucky?
And rest assured, this was a mollywhopping. The final score — an 87-82 win — won’t reflect that, but LSU jumped out to leads of 14-2 and 22-6 and never allowed Kentucky to really make a run at whittling the deficit down in the second half. The Tigers beat the belief out of the Wildcats, and while that’s an issue for Coach Cal’s club, it’s one that we will address in a different post.
This is all about LSU and while this team is currently sitting at 13-6 overall and 4-3 in a fairly mediocre SEC, because this is a really, really good basketball team … when they play like they did on Tuesday.
Johnny O’Bryant was a beast on the block, dominating Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein. Jordan Mickey, who might be the best NBA prospect on the roster, finished with 14 points, six boards and five blocks and made two or three plays that showcased just how much potential he has. Add in Jarell Martin, and the Tigers legitimately have three NBA prospects on their front line. Throw in Shavon Coleman and Andre Stringer on the wings and Anthony Hickey, who played a fantastic floor game, at the point, and you’re looking at a team that is capable of making a run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
But will they even get there?
The bottom-line is this: LSU has no business missing out on the tournament, but that may end up being precisely what happens. Their best non-conference wins is a pick-em between St. Joe’s and at Texas Tech. They lost to Rhode Island at home and still have to go on the road six more times in SEC play, including trips to Kentucky, Arkansas and Florida. Lose those three and win everything else, and you’re looking at a 12-6 SEC team with a win over Kentucky and … not much else.
Will that be enough to get them a bid?
I’ll say this much, however: every team projected to be a five or a six seed is hoping that won’t be the case.