LSU falls apart against Kentucky, 74-50


Is it finally over? Is Terrance Jones or Anthony Davis still blocking every shot and making easy lay-ups? Even though I still have these images in my head, yes, it is over. Kentucky came into Baton Rouge as the better team, and for only a brief exception in the first half, they played like it.

LSU fell behind quickly in the first half, trailing 22-10. It seemed like this was going to get ugly fast, but Kentucky’s Anthony Davis suffered a nasty fall that took him out for the game for several minutes. LSU took advantage with the Wildcats best player on the bench. The Tigers went on a 14-4 run and closed the lead to a point thanks to a nice alley-oop slam by Storm Warren. Kentucky would answer back and close out the half on a 10-2 run and led at half time 35-26.

LSU trailed at the half, but their was a little hope. The team had played the first half without Justin Hamilton. Hamilton picked up two early fouls and only played six minutes in the first half. Can some one please explain Trent Johnson’s logic here. Normally, you do this to save the player so he can finish the game, but come on, this is Kentucky. You need your star players in their more than any other game. So what if he fouls out with ten minutes left in the game. Chances are you could still be lurking around. Once he is out of the game, you could lose by 20, but the fans could continue to cheer for their team longer. Instead, Hamilton missed most of the first half because he could not keep up with Anthony Davis or Terrance Jones and fared the same in the second half.

Kentucky started the second half on a 27-6 run to open up a 52-30 lead. The Cats never had to look back thanks to Terrance Jones. Jones scored 17 of his 27 points in the second half and looked more like the lottery pick player most thought he could be. Jones and Davis owned the LSU front line all game line. At one point in the second half it was clear that LSU had just given up on trying to guard the duo. Trent Johnson eluded to this in his post game comments ” We stopped competing, and I didn’t like it.”

Trent, news flash, this is your team. If you want to send a message to guys not performing on the court, pull them off. The way the players present themselves on the court is an extension of the coaches. The last two games, LSU fought its butt off to keep the game close, but on Saturday, they noticed they should not have been on the same court as Kentucky and their played showed it.

I am not going to rip Trent for losing this game, it would have been the biggest upset in the program’s history if he had. However, losing this game as bad as they did shows me that the program is still in serious trouble. LSU had more fans at the PMAC than they had all year (over 11,500) and I am sure more LSU fans watched the game on TV than they had all year. In short, more casual fans were watching this game. Here was a chance to grow the causal fans intrest. Instead, you just lost the casual fan for another year. Why is that important? Because the casual fan takes your average attendance from 8,000 to over 11,000. They also help create a buzz about the team and the players respond more to that.

If you want to grow a program, you need more than a bandwagon fan base. John Brady could get the causal fan every couple of years, but could not sustain it. Stringing together a few solid season helps turning bandwagon fans into fans. Using the NFL as a example. Before 2006, the New Orleans Saints had few fans outside of greater New Orleans, but after a few successful season’s from the team, their were several more black and gold shirts on display in Baton Rouge. Fast forward a few years later (and  a Super Bowl trophy) and those casual fans are all in with the Saints. If that team can grow its base, then LSU basketball can as well.

The goal for this team for the rest of the season is still in front of them. If LSU goes 8-8 in conference play that would be a huge improvement over the last couple of year. This is possible and should happen. Trent has a young team, but as we saw Saturday is lacking talent at certain positions. LSU will have a week off before their next game Saturday as they host Arkansas. Maybe this loss can give the Tigers a little “no one believes in us” mentally and this embarrassment can fuel LSU to a exciting February.