Three keys: LSU vs. Tennessee

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
1:32
PM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Whatever slim chances LSU had at an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, they nosedived last weekend.

The Tigers (17-11, 7-7) forgot to show up Saturday in Oxford and were absolutely shellacked, 72-48, by Ole Miss.

A 24-point loss isn't exactly an easy thing to bounce back from, but LSU has to try. Tennessee (16-13, 8-6) comes into the PMAC tonight tied with Alabama for fourth in the SEC.

The Tigers sit just one game behind that pair and are still in the mix for solid SEC tournament positioning, provided they can knock off the Vols.

Here are three keys for the Tigers to move back above .500 in conference play.

Move on: In times of success and struggle, LSU coach Trent Johnson has never been one to dwell on the moment.

His team needs to turn that philosophy into practice on Wednesday. The loss to the Rebels completely derailed what had been an impressive few weeks for LSU. If the Tigers allow the beating to linger, it would almost certainly affect their confidence against the Volunteers.

Johnson, for his part, didn't seem too concerned with that possibility. With the amount of ups and downs the Tigers have gone through this season (and in the past few years), he said the team has put the loss behind them.

"We have learned from that and moved on," he said. "I can tell that by the bus ride home, and I can tell that by their approach to the video yesterday."

Their NCAA tournament dreams may be dashed, but the NIT is a real possibility for the Tigers, which is something to consider as they attempt to refocus.

Big night from seniors: LSU hasn't leaned too heavily on its senior class this season. The Tigers' typical starting lineup doesn't feature any seniors. Storm Warren, the team's biggest senior contributor, is only averaging about 19 minutes this season. But Johnson said his trio of seniors will get the start against the Volunteers.

But to knock off a tough Tennessee team that has pushed No. 1 Kentucky to the wire and beaten No. 13 Florida twice, the LSU seniors will need to show up.

Warren has been a much-needed spark off the bench in the Tigers' recent 4-1 stretch. He averaged eight points per game during LSU's win streak and accounted for double digits in wins against South Carolina and Mississippi State.

White and Bass haven't been big in terms of offensive production. But in their final game at the PMAC, any extra boost they can give will help.

Tighten up the D: As much as LSU might have struggled offensively against Ole Miss, it was the defense that Johnson harped on, and for good reason.

The Tigers gave up open looks to the Rebels all game and allowed them to shoot 47 percent. When they weren't connecting on open shots, the Rebels lived in the post, getting to the foul line 34 times and putting up 28 points in the paint.

At this point that the Tigers' best asset is their defense -- the league's fourth-best scoring defense.

In conference play, LSU is 0-5 when it allows the opposition to score 70 points or more. The Tigers are 2-2 if their opponent scores 65 or better.

When the Tigers can limit an opponents to fewer than 60 points, they're 5-0.

It's easier said than done to hold the league's fourth-ranked team to such a low output, but the better the LSU defense plays, the better shot the Tigers have to win.

David Helman | email

Reporter, RecruitingNation

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

Intriguing SEC bowl games
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Saturday, 1/10
Monday, 1/12