It's get-right time for this LSU basketball team.
After a couple of downright worrisome performances, the Tigers get another crack at their first win of 2014 with a road trip to Columbia today. As recently as three weeks ago, this could've been marked down as a sure win, what with the Gamecocks early struggles and LSU's consistent start.
Now, though, there's a a little more uncertainty and a lot more at stake. LSU desperately needs to change the tone. Johnny Jones has already promised a new starting lineup for this game. Expect Jordan Mickey and Shavon Coleman in that first five. After those two, it's anybody's guess, especially since Jones already showed he's not afraid to bench a star upperclassman like he did with Johnny O'Bryant III for 13 minutes against Rhode Island.
That lineup shift must spark an LSU team that has been pummeled on the glass lately, mostly (but not completely) due to a lack of intensity. South Carolina is the team to refocus against on the boards, as it ranks 171st nationally in rebounding. Also, LSU must get more from Andre Stringer and Anthony Hickey shooting the ball. The duo has shot 24 percent in the losses to Tennessee and Rhode Island. One or both could come off the bench today.
Though the Gamecocks got blasted by Florida on Wednesday, they had reeled off five of six before that, including wins over solid Saint Mary's and Akron squads. This is a nice league road test, one good enough to give LSU pause but lacking in tooth enough to seriously threaten the Tigers.
That being said, expect this to be a closer game than it should, a potential exercise in exasperation. LSU should come out with fire early to banish the demons of the last week. But USC will settle in and make the Tigers earn it a little down the stretch.
If LSU's only two road games at UMass and Texas Tech are any indication, foul trouble and shooting lulls will be the rule, not the norm for this team in road games. That shouldn't be enough to cost LSU today, but the Tigers need to go ahead and start looking like the NCAA Tournament hopeful they appeared to be just one week ago.
Game is on your local Jefferson Pilot Stations across the Southeast and ESPN3 in other areas. Alexandria (KLAX-DT2), Baton Rouge (WBXH); Lafayette (KADN), New Orleans (WNOL), Shreveport (KMSS)