The LSU basketball team, winless in the SEC, continues to fall victim to the same bad habits.
Offensively, the Tigers struggle more than any team in the conference. The squad’s average of 65.5 points per game, 42-percent shooting from the field and 28-percent shooting from behind the arc are all good for worst in the SEC.
In their last game out, Bo Spencer scored 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field. On a night where Spencer took seven more shots than Tasmin Mitchell and 11 more than the next man in line, the junior guard – in a losing effort - had his best SEC night.
Reflecting back on the Rebels, Spencer pointed to the Tigers’ inability to find playmakers outside of the big three as reason behind his team-high scoring output.
“I took some 3s, but that was what the defense was giving me,” Spencer said. “I saw shots that Aaron and Chris could have taken, but they passed it up. With Tasmin being double-teamed, the time comes where I just have to shoot.
“It has to do with ability to want to step up and make plays,” he added. “The SEC is a tough conference, and you have to step up and make a play with confidence. Guys need to start taking shots, and if they knock down a couple they can get into a rhythm.”
Finding a rhythm offensively isn’t the only concern for Johnson, who pointed to the lack of a consistent effort as one of the team’s glaring weaknesses.
“When anyone on the team scores, watch how he goes from the offensive side to the defensive side,” Johnson said. “Then when things aren’t going well, watch how that same player goes from one end of the floor to the other.”
Add to that the miscues mentally on the offensive end, and Johnson is the first to tell you that the formula is not a winning one - and the loss to Ole Miss is a case in point.
With the score at 59-58, the Tigers made three passes, went inside-out and got a good shot off from Spencer. After the miss, the Rebels’ Terrance Henry put the ball on the floor and beat Chris Bass to the point of attack from 35 feet out.
LSU went back down, went inside-out once more and Spencer missed a wide-open three attempt. Off the miss, Eddie Ludwig chased down the loose ball and kicked it back to the top of the key for the new shot clock. Seconds later, Bass took a three-point attempt – with Mitchell open on the baseline. The Rebels scored again on the following possession; and, after a timeout, Aaron Dotson recorded a steal only to miss the layup. Once again, the Rebels capitalized on the mistake with a score.
“Those are the things with this group that are starting to happen,” Johnson said. “We are getting better against good teams and good people for 20 or 30 minutes. When you start talking about the things that are correctable, these are things that are correctable. These are the things that we have to continue to do as a staff to get them to see.
“We don't have a margin of error this year,” he added. “We take two open shots in rhythm that Bo misses, and we get a stop, but then we come down to an ill-advised shot and the ball isn't turned to your best player, you are talking about six or eight-point turnarounds. You sub in, transition and miss a layup, go back and don't convert, well there's your game.”
While the work done on game nights has not been good enough for a win in conference play, Johnson said that he has never questioned the level of commitment to getting better in the time between tip-offs.
“I think this is a great comment by someone who used to coach here, ‘You either care about getting better, and if you don't you're stupid,’” Johnson said. “There is no fine line. It's not like it's been 10 losses. There have been some wins. We've executed, but there have been open shots and guys have to step up and shoot them.”