With four games left in the regular season, there’s no question that this is the Tigers last chance to prove they’re worthy of more than just the NIT. Everyone’s just about run out of reasons to list them as an NCAA tournament team, even with the star power of Ben Simmons and the potential they have to make a deep run.
It’s hard to find a truly bright spot for LSU basketball this year outside of Simmons’ natural talent, which still hasn’t translated into more than an average season for his team. And with no timetable to the return of senior guard Keith Hornsby, the Tigers face their steepest uphill climb.
Back-to-back losses have them on the outside of the tournament looking in, and the final stretch of the season is far from an easy one. Despite the Razorbacks 13-14 record, Arkansas is no team to overlook in Bud Walton Arena. Much like the rest of the SEC, the Hogs are tough to beat at home with a 12-3 record.
However, LSU’s been in this position before. The best example is just last season when a loss to Tennessee hurt their tournament chances nearly as much as this year. The Vols tamed the Tigers in the PMAC 78-63, and their post-season hopes were in serious doubt. But that’s when the Tigers went to then-18th ranked Arkansas and won on a last-second three and all but sealed their trip to the Big Dance.
Unfortunately, as mentioned, Hornsby likely won’t be available in Fayetteville for such heroics, and the Tigers need much more than just one road win to feel safe.
From the outside looking in, it’s been easy to question this teams’ effort at times the way they’ve played defense and lazily turned the ball over. Coach Jones assured the media that wasn’t the issue on Monday, but the bottom line is they haven’t consistently put a good product on the floor.
The same narrative remains. They’re truly capable of beating anyone in the country, but they’re quickly running out of time to prove it.
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