The first half was rough. After a pretty close start to the game, midway through the first the Deacon's took control. LSU was too careless with the ball and allowed far too many easy buckets off rebounds and turnovers. The defensive penetration was deplorable. Simmons wasn't playing great, but the offense was certainly stymied in the half court. Towards the end of the half, bolstered by Josh Gray's presence off the bench, they made a little run, and ended the half down five. Came out with better energy in second half. Defensive intensity turned up, and Simmons specifically picked up his play. Turnovers led to transitions points, which allowed LSU to get themselves back into the game.
Craig Victor continues to look incredible, as he's really asserting himself on offense through both post-ups and pick and rolls. He and Simmons are a fearful rebounding duo, though they gave up far too many offensive rebounds as the team didn't look fully engaged throughout the night. This is EXTREMELY concerning at this point in the season. Teams that fall asleep during stretches consistently do not win games. The level of energy is noticeably different during certain runs. They need to find a way to be more consistent in that area.
Simmons really needs to improve his free-throw shooting. For someone who is going to make his living handling the ball and playing around the rim, he needs to improve both his touch (which is, to a certain extent, a have it or you don't thing) and free throw shooting. To me, one seems more innate than another, but focus and repetition will aid him tremendously in that area. While his outside shot is often cited as where he should be focusing his energy (and it should), he needs to first shore-up his consistency at the line, lest he get Rondo syndrome (incredible distributor and creator, but mind-fucked out of shooting from deep, or honest to god attacking the rim due to getting fouled.)
The two December additions continue to lead the team on both ends of the floor. That's great, but I'd love to see Blakeney and Quarterman get it going. Simmons needs to do better at demanding the ball in the low-post against smaller defenders. It opens things up for everyone else, and they should be such easy buckets! Just a couple a half and that could have been the difference in the game. It's not fair to cherry-pick one guy or one thing like that, but as the surefire first pick in the NBA next year, he should be able to get a basket when being guarded by someone 8 inches smaller than him.
They were trading buckets down the stretch, and both teams were playing hard (Wake visibly harder than LSU), but sloppy. Lost the game down the stretch on effort plays, and lack of communication and team-play on defense. Another tough, ugly loss. This team, barring a miraculous turnaround during SEC play, is likely headed for the NIT. Not sure how Jones is going to survive this year, and if I was AD Joe Alleva and I thought this a true tournament or bust-the-program-for-ten-years team, I'd consider letting him go sooner rather than later. These kids simply will not play hard for him. I'm not usually one to advocate for someone losing their job, but a mid-season HC change might be the only thing that lights a spark under the team's collective ass.