Maybe it was sending a message to a few players, maybe it was wanting better defensive players on the court, but Coach Jones started out the game with a new starting five. Duop Reath and of course Antonio Blakeney stayed, but Branden Jenkins, Jalyn Patterson, and Wayde Sims all replaced Skylar Mays, Brandon Sampson, and Aaron Epps to start the game. It was an effort to change how things have been, I’ll give that to Coach. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a fruitless effort, as his Tigers gave up well over 90 points again. This is the fifth straight game LSU has given up 75-plus points, a stretch in which they are now 1-4.
Sims and Epps continued their undersized woes, combining for only 10 points and 9 rebounds. I can’t type this enough for the rest of the season: the loss of Craig Victor killed any hopes of a winning season for this team. We’ve just finally gotten to a point in the Jones tenure where his players can no longer out-talent the poor coaching. Martin, Mickey, O’Bryant III, and Simmons were good enough to cover that. Duop Reath and a couple small forwards playing the 4 just won’t cut it. Any defensive woes start there; no inside presence leads to overcompensation by your guards which leads to wide open shots for their guards. Hell, Blakeney was yet again the only player to score at least 10 points, and my biggest issue with the team is the defense!
Last postgame article, I came to some senses saying we’re only halfway through the season, lots of adjustments can be made, lots of games to be played. There was one specific moment from tonight’s game that stuck out to me that really killed all hope to salvage this season. In the second half, Tigers down by 20, Skylar Mays held on to the ball through a shot clock violation. He had no clue, and none of his teammates on the court or the bench let him know. They either didn’t know or didn’t care, and at this point I’m not sure which would be worse.
There’s something to be said about a team who just seems uninterested when things aren’t going their way, and that something isn’t very nice. It’s one thing to mentally give up on a game when you’re being blown out, it’s another to let those apathetic motions define the rest of the season. Bad offensive scheme is a sign of bad coaching, but unenthusiastic play anytime you’re behind by double digits is a sign of terrible coaching. Hell, we’re still three wins above .500 and I don’t feel even the slightest bit of over-reactive when I say Johnny has lost control of this team. The signs were there from last year’s team lacking chemistry and missing the tournament. This year Johnny is uprooting those signs and beating my sanity with them like a piñata.
The Tigers return to the PMAC this Saturday to face off against the Alabama Crimson Tide at 2:30pm on the SEC Network. LSU will be in danger of another offensive struggle, as Alabama held Mississippi State and Vanderbilt to 58 and 56 points, respectively. Those two teams scored 95 and 96 points, respectively, against LSU earlier this season.