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Preview/GameThread: LSU at Arkansas (ESPNU, 6pm)

The Tigers hit the road in desperate need of a win to get back in NCAA Tournament discussion.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Realistically, this is the last stand for this team.

Now on the wrong side of the bubble, this team needs a 3-1 finish and two wins in the SEC Tournament to feel good about its chances.

With the season finale at Kentucky and a home game vs. Florida still to go, that makes tonight's game in Fayetteville more or less a must win.


LSU has won two of its last nine games in Bud Walton Arena. It was one of eight before LSU prevailed last season, when Keith Hornsby hit a buzzer-beater to break a tie game and seal a resume-solidifying road win.

Well, the Tigers won't have Hornsby tonight. The senior guard is out with complications from the same sports hernia that sidelined him for the first seven games. That's a huge loss, especially going into a trick away environment like Arkansas. Counting on Josh Gray and Tim Quarterman to play under control at the point and steer this offense? Should be fun.

And really, that's the mood around this program right now. Pretty damn dour. Arkansas has been pretty bad this season, a rare 13-14 overall while going 4-7 in its last 11 games. And yet, find me any person who is confident LSU will roll the hogs. After the crushing losses to Alabama and Tennessee and a squeaker at home over Arky earlier this season, good there's no reason to think this will be anything but a slugfest.

Without Hornsby, that just adds to the weight on Ben Simmons' back. He tried to carry the Tigers in Knoxville, but a 21-9 line is no good if he turns it over eight times. It was eerily reminiscent of the Florida game, only we expected him to have matured more by now. That's still putting too much of this team's problems on him.

LSU will have to let it fly beyond the arc and will need to make them. Arkansas allows teams to shoot a clip above 44 percent from the field, and the Hogs packed in for a zone look in the PMAC last month. LSU needs to free up Jalyn Patterson and Antonio Blakeney early and often to get in a rhythm and keep a subdued crowd, subdued.

This isn't a game most teams with legitimate tournament aspirations should struggle too much with. Make no mistake, LSU is still in the running. The season is not lost yet.

But we've learned that you can't predict how the Tigers will play in any way shape or form this season. Literally nothing from a 30-point win to a 30-point loss would shock me in the least.