Whatever slim chances LSU had of making the NCAA tournament, the Tigers left them in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers (17-11, 7-7) ended a four-game winning streak and took a huge blow to their postseason chances after getting thrashed 72-48 by Ole Miss.
The Rebels (16-12, 6-8) took the lead from the start and never looked back, riding a hot shooting streak on offense while smothering the Tigers with their frontcourt defense.
Absolutely nothing went right for the Tigers. The humiliating loss was made worse when LSU coach Trent Johnson was lost in the second half for a pair of technical fouls.
Johnson tossed: Johnson has had a reputation for butting heads with referees, and he certainly added to that legacy on the Rebels’ home court.
With the Tigers limping to the finish of a blowout loss, Johnson left his coach’s box to argue his point with one of the game officials. That offense alone earned him a technical foul, but Johnson got himself thrown out of the gym with seven minutes remaining when he followed the referees to center court to finish his rant.
LSU assistant coach Donny Guerinoni took over in Johnson’s absence, but the damage was done. The Tigers trailed by 18 points when Johnson left the game, and that deficit quickly ballooned to as many as 24 points in the remaining seven minutes.
Hamilton shut down: The Tigers went to Oxford knowing they needed to get production from junior forward Justin Hamilton. It just didn’t happen.
Ole Miss’ frontcourt combination of forwards Terrance Henry, Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner completely erased Hamilton in every aspect of the game. The junior was swarmed every time he came close to the paint, forcing the Tigers to restructure their attack.
Hamilton finished with just two points on only four shots, and he topped that off by going 0-for-3 from the free throw line. Storm Warren and Johnny O’Bryant III did their best to pick up the slack, going for 13 and nine points, respectively.
But with Hamilton rendered completely ineffective, the Tigers’ post game could never get going.
Role reversal: Back in January, the Tigers ran Ole Miss out of the PMAC in an 81-55 blowout win. The key to their success was a 43.2 team shooting percentage, compared to a mediocre 32.1 percent performance from the Rebels.
As bad as the Rebels shot last time, it seemed like they couldn’t miss on Saturday. The Rebels shot 47 percent as a team, highlighted by a 7-of-12, 21-point day from Henry and a 7-of-10, 18-point performance from guard Nick Williams.
Ole Miss rode those hot hands to a 22-9 lead right out of the gate, and they never looked back.
Conversely, the Tigers chunked up an ugly 31 percent shooting performance. None of LSU’s shooters, whether inside or outside, could consistently find a shot. It only got worse when Johnson was ejected, as the team spent the remainder of the game chucking up half-hearted 3-pointers.