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LSU 69, Texas Tech 64: Raiders of The Lost Arc

Well, it wasn't pretty.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

LSU's first test of the season turned out to be a lot closer than expected.

While the Tigers were wholly flawed in squeaking by Texas Tech in overtime, there's some building blocks and major concerns going forward. At this point in the season, though, a win will get the job done. Look, it's easy to overreact to early season results - remember Texas A&M walloping South Carolina three months ago? - and college basketball is a four-month trudge toward the postseason.

Tech overcame some early lethargy and then absolutely jumped all over LSU late in the first half, cruising into the locker room with a 36-24 advantage. It didn't last long as the Tigers closed the gap every step of the way, finally using a 12-4 run capped by Jarell Martin's furious windmill dunk to grab the lead with six minutes and change to play.

It all bogged down after that, as LSU went nearly all of those six minutes without a field goal until finally getting a couple lay-ups. It still took some crazy help. A confusing five-second call handed the ball to LSU down four with 53 seconds to go, when even one Tech free throw might have sealed it.

After LSU narrowed the gap to a bucket with 18 seconds to play, the Red Raiders absolutely handed one over, throwing the ball straight into Tim Quarterman's chest to tie the game. A potential game-winning three went begging, and LSU proceeded to dominate the overtime.

Overall, the struggle was real. The Tigers couldn't handle a team picked to finish last in the Big 12. However, that may be true and Tech could still be improved as a team. Their freshman trio of Norense Odiase, Zach Smith and Justin Gray was potent and disruptive on both ends. Hell, it's not often you see a team match LSU in blocks.

With that in mind, I'm not going to totally write off LSU after one poor performance. But there's a lot to be fixed and it needs to happen quickly, since all of LSU's important non-conference games are in the next 15 days.

You can't ignore the shooting in that game. Not only did LSU shoot 36 percent from the field and 10 percent beyond the arc, but the Tigers seemingly refused to go with what worked. Only Jordan Mickey and the second-half version of Jarell Martin shot worth a damn, yet LSU kept chunking up the 3-pointers and recklessly tossing up contested transition shots. It was a maddening look into the offense when it loses focus and is absolutely a concern going forward.

Considering the frantic pace, 13 turnovers in 45 minutes isn't awful, but it sure felt like LSU wasted a whole bunch of possessions. They went multiple stretches of five minutes without making a field goal. That's 25 percent of the game LSU spent stagnant, which will cost them if they repeat it down the road.

The other major concern slowly taking shape is the depth on this team. For the second straight game, more than 80 percent of LSU's points came from Mickey, Martin, Josh Gray and Keith Hornsby. Only two other players even scored, and one of them was Elbert Robinson III, whose lone contribution was a nifty hook shot mere minutes into the game before he was never heard from again.

More concerning than the points is the minutes played. Mickey played all but two minutes, Martin and Gray played full regulation games and Hornsby logged 38 minutes despite some foul trouble. Even Tim freakin' Quarterman played 30 minutes. I don't know if Johnny Jones just went with the flow of the game last night or the bench truly can't contribute yet but it's something to keep a close eye on with this team. Mickey and Martin will wear down at this rate.

Switching up to the positives here. Hornsby won't shoot that bad very often, and his two crucial treys really spurred the run that put LSU back in the game. He's really a lynchpin for this team, which badly needs outside shooting to space the floor. Gray's shooting was poor but he made some clutch baskets when he needed to and made 8-11 from the line despite some misses in overtime. Martin's pair of dunks were electric and a glimpse into his frightening athleticism. I'd love to see him mix it up inside a bit more defensively and not settle for jumpers on offense, but his effort is there, so no complaints.

And then there's Jordan Mickey. He was pretty spectacular as we've come to expect but he filled up the stat sheet in every way last night. 18 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and the only LSU player who took multiple shots to finish above 50 percent from the field. He's such a savvy player in the post, always in position for rebounds and constantly altering shots near the rim. Tech actually had more success against him than most will, as they made a lot of nifty finishes at the basket. I wouldn't mind seeing Mickey ditch those three-pointers from his arsenal, either. Mostly though, just get used to watching the silky-smooth sophomore drain mid-range jumpers and corral rebounds.

If you were grading this game, LSU probably works out to about a C-plus. Only slightly above average because the Tigers got the win, with mistakes galore. No one is pleased with that performance and you'd always rather see domination. But it's never bad to have experience in close games. Plus, I doubt LSU shoots the ball that poorly many more times. So you can say that they put in one of their worst nights and still beat a surprisingly pesky Power 5 foe, with a team that hasn't played together much and has a new starting backcourt.

At the bare minimum, we learned this team has one of the most likable traits of a Johnny Jones' team: They will absolutely keep playing hard, even if they're not playing well.