LSU coach Trent Johnson had some rather harsh words for some of his Tigers after they lost a 12-point lead in the second half of their 61-59 loss at home to Utah.
"We are fighting," Johnson said after the Tigers dropped their third in a row. "We have a lot of guys out there fighting and trying to win the game. Then we have a guy or two not in-tune for whatever reason and not being ready to play and being selfish throughout. That hurts us."
The Tigers got solid performances up front from Storm Warren (21 points, nine rebounds) and Tasmin Mitchell (19 points, 12 rebounds) but had little else to show for their efforts.
Nobody else managed more than five points.
"Obviously it's my responsibility to try to get this right," Johnson said. "You know what's going on. You see who's playing with passion and who's not. You see who is working hard.
"That's the problem with our team sometimes in terms of our inconsistency – being up and down. When things get tough, guys have a tendency to worry about themselves. If they don't get their number called right away, they have a tendency to worry about why they aren't getting shots."
Warren and Mitchell were a combined 13-of-31 from the field. The other seven Tigers who played were a combined 7-of-24.
The shooting woes took a toll in the second half, when the Tigers were only 6-of-27 from the field after shooting 50 percent in the first 20 minutes.
"I don't think we came out with a sense of urgency or like we did in the first half," Mitchell said.
The Tigers will have one more opportunity to correct things before getting into conference play. They are home against McNeese State tonight before hosting Alabama in their SEC opener on Jan. 9.
--The three-game losing streak is LSU's longest since the 2007-08 Tigers lost eight in a row beginning in late December and extending through most of March. Last year's team lost back-to-back games only twice – in early January when the Tigers lost at Utah and at Alabama and in early March, when they lost their last two games of the regular season to Vanderbilt and Auburn.
--The 59 points in the two-point loss to Utah marked the fourth time this season the Tigers have failed to hit the 60-point mark. They beat Indiana State 56-45 but lost 81-55 to Connecticut and 71-52 to Arizona State in November.
ON THE SPOT: The Tigers are the poorest shooting team in the SEC, connecting on only 41.5 percent of their shots overall. They are last in three-point shooting as well (28.3 percent).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have to wipe this off the calendar, look forward to McNeese State. Let's see if we can get that momentum going into that game and then hitting Alabama." -- Senior F Tasmin Mitchell, on the Tigers' mindset after the loss to Utah.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: The Tigers have struggled to score for much of the season and have fallen to 8-5 with their current three-game losing streak. They had won five in a row before losing in overtime to Washington State just before Christmas, and they have lost their two games coming out of the break.
Usual starters -- F Tasmin Mitchell, F Storm Warren, G Aaron Dotson, G Bo Spencer, G Chris Bass.
Key subs -- F Dennis Harris, F Garrett Green, F Eddie Ludwig, G/F Zach Kinsley.
Washington State 72, LSU 70 (OT)
Xavier 89, LSU 65
Utah 71, LSU 69
vs. McNeese State, Monday, Jan. 4
vs. Alabama, Saturday, Jan. 9
at South Carolina, Wednesday, Jan. 13
at Florida, Saturday, Jan. 16
vs. Auburn, Wednesday, Jan. 20
IN FOCUS: Alabama has been up and down just like LSU but has one of the top scoring-rebounding players in the league in F JaMychal Green. Like Tasmin Mitchell, Green is in the top 10 in the league in both categories.
--G Bo Spencer had a string of double-figure games end at five when he was held to four points in the loss to Utah. Spencer had averaged 19.6 ppg over that span but had scored at least 20 in four of the games.
--F Tasmin Mitchell has registered double-doubles in scoring and rebounding in three of his last four games. He has averaged 16.3 points and 11.5 rebounds a game over that stretch.