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GameThread/Preview: Gardner-Webb at LSU (6pm, SECN)

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The Tigers need a win but there's a lot more at stake after a disastrous start to the season.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

*Pokes LSU with a stick* Do stuff.

That's about where we're at right now with this team. We're still waiting on any sign of life, be it a key defensive stop or a blistering run that puts a team away. There's been a lot of effort lacking. That simply can't be an excuse going forward.

The Tigers have obliterated their margin for error and the road to reconciliation won't be easy. It's going to be baby steps.

So no better way to get it rolling than with Gardner-Webb, a 4-6 bunch that has won exactly once in seven tries away from home and owns a win over... Toccoa Falls? This team ain't scaring anyone.

This game is all about LSU, and it's an opportune situation to tinker with Craig Victor rejoining the lineup and Jalyn Patterson's status still in question thanks to a leg issue. The Tigers desperately need the 6-foot-9 Victor to provide rebounding effort and interior defense, two absolute killers in all four losses this season. He comes in highly touted, a former 4-star and top 100 commit who chose Arizona before transferring back home last season.

For all the griping about the offense's simplicity (and it's still a concern), scoring hasn't been an issue the last two times out, as the Tigers are averaging nearly 100 points. Even with a stagnant half-court set, Keith Hornsby's return and LSU's natural transition game make this team a threat at any time.

It's all about the intensity level on defense. The Bulldogs are a thoroughly average offensive squad by almost any metric. They don't have a single player who strikes fear into the heart of an opponent, though they have a nice senior trio of guards in Harold McBride, Adonis Burbage and Isaiah Ivey.

This is really it for LSU. If they can't look the part here, with their backs against the wall at home against a middling opponent, it's hard to see it happening at all this season.

It's the first of three "get-right" games building toward Wake Forest in two weeks. LSU really can't lose another non-conference game but they need more than that.

They need to believe they're as good as the collection of talent on the floor. Now would be a nice time to start.