NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Three games into SEC play, the LSU Tigers men's basketball team showed a little more life than we expected after a rough non-conference start. They opened up with a win on the road at Vanderbilt, which is never an easy game, and followed that with a dominant victory against Kentucky. For a moment, it seemed like they'd turned a corner.
Instead, their trip to Gainesville turned into another missed opportunity.
"They just played a lot harder and with a lot more energy," LSU freshman Ben Simmons said. "I don't think we played as a team."
You can call it a learning experience, and you can call it growing pains, but you can't call it timely.
Fifteen games into the season with six losses while sitting outside of the NCAA Tournament field is not the time to still be trying to figure things out, and LSU is quickly running out of time to prove their postseason worth. One could even argue the only reason the Tigers still have an outside shot is because of the star power Simmons brings their roster. Otherwise, they'd just be another six-loss team.
The one positive, for better or worse, is the Tigers don't seem to be dwelling on the past.
"Focus on the next game," says Simmons. "I'm not too worried about what happened. We lost a game. It's upsetting, but we've got to move on to the next game."
That next game won't be a walk in the park by any means, even for the Tigers who have just one home loss this season. At 12-3, Ole Miss boasts the SEC's leading scorer in Stefan Moody. Now would be the perfect time for LSU to return to the same level of play they displayed last week against the Wildcats.
"Everyone stepped up against Kentucky," says Simmons. "We've got to have that mentality every game. It can't just be against the top teams. It has to be every game no matter who it is. I think once everyone steps up, we'll be good."
If LSU still hopes to make the NCAA Tournament, that has to be sooner than later.