FEINSWOG: The haves, have nots and perhapses

The Southeastern Conference basketball season is now one-quarter-plus finished and you can draw a few conclusions.

There are haves, have nots and perhapses.

 

If perhapses is even a word, but …

 

The haves are Kentucky, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi State. Barring something unusual, those four teams are going to finish 1-2 in their respective divisions and go to the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky, after waylaying LSU on Saturday by 31 points, did nothing to change my preseason mind that the Wildcats are the best team in the league.

 

The other three are good, solid clubs.

 

The have nots include winless Auburn – but, mark my words, new coach Jeff Lebo will turn that program around and in a few years those other Tigers will be outstanding – and Georgia.

 

The rest of those perhapses you can throw in a big bunch as they'll fight for one or two NCAA spots. They are, with their SEC records as of Sunday in parentheses, LSU (2-2), Arkansas (2-4), Ole Miss (2-4), Tennessee (3-2), South Carolina (2-3) and Vanderbilt (2-3).

 

In the case of LSU, the Tigers have victories over two in that last group, South Carolina and Arkansas. And Wednesday, they play Ole Miss with a chance to put the Rebels totally into the have-nots category.

 

LSU opened with a league loss at Alabama, beat USC and Arkansas, and lost to Kentucky. Did you expect anything worse?

 

The truth is, LSU is right on course. But here's where it gets interesting.

 

Of course, the Tigers have to win the games we expect them to, Wednesday's Ole Miss match being one of them.

 

But somewhere along the line, they have to do something special if they want to avoid the NIT. The next big chance is Saturday, when Mississippi State comes to town.

 

Winning a game on the road wouldn't be a bad idea, either. LSU lost at Alabama and Kentucky, which are, arguably, the hardest two road games on the slate. But they're all tough on the road, especially with games in Starkville and Fayetteville ahead.

 

Nonetheless, the elements still remain for LSU to make a good run at the NCAA Tournament. Freshman Glen Davis has established himself as a big-time college basketball player. He nearly single-handedly won the Arkansas game by himself. If everyone played the game with the desire and all-out fervor that he does, college hoops would be a lot more fun to watch.

 

Sophomore Brandon Bass is another legitimately really good college player who has his stretches when he carries LSU. Together, Bass and Davis are the best two young big guys on the same team in the country.

 

And sophomore Ross Neltner is giving valuable minutes, which LSU desperately needs.

 

The backcourt of Tack Minor, Darrel Mitchell, Antonio Hudson and Xavier Whipple can do the job, but here's the hook: Tack Minor has to be really good. He has yet to show that on the road in a victory that matters. He was OK in a loss at Utah, not good enough at Alabama and didn't matter at UK.

 

Minor has all the tools. When he's on, he's remarkable. When he taking ill-advised shots and/or turning the ball over, he's a rally killer.

 

This may be scary but: If the others remain constant, it might all come down to Minor whether LSU is a have not or, perhaps, a perhaps.

 

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Lee Feinswog is the author of "Tales From The LSU Sidelines," a Baton Rouge sportswriter and host of the television show Sports Monday. Reach him at (225) 926-3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com.


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