The LSU men’s basketball team faces a pair of two-game road trips that make up a bulk of their remaining conference schedule. The looming question remains whether, with seven games to play, the Tigers (9-14, 0-9 SEC) will land a conference win.
With the loss to Kentucky, LSU has dropped 11 straight Southeastern Conference contests dating back to the final two games of 2009. The 26-point loss to the Wildcats on Saturday tied the Connecticut defeat as the largest margins on the year, both of which ended 81-55.
Against a team that was bigger and stronger across the board, Johnson offered up no excuses for the loss at the hands of the nation’s No. 3 ranked team.
“They intimidated us, backed us off and made their run,” Johnson said. “It was good hardnosed basketball on Kentucky’s part.”
This week, the load – while not as tough as top-20 run-ins with Tennessee and Kentucky – does not get much lighter. The Tigers travel to Arkansas (12-11, 5-3) on Wednesday before heading to Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday to face No. 24 Vanderbilt (17-5, 6-2).
If LSU didn’t have enough stacked against them, both opponents have made playing at home their comfort zone. The Razorbacks have played 17 of their 23 games this season at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, while the Commodores are a perfect 11-0 at Memorial Gymnasium.
Johnson, still confident that his team is leaving everything on the floor each night out, likes the direction the group is headed, even when the game recaps continue to read losses for his side.
“I hate where we are at, but I know where we are going,” Johnson said. “As long as everyone stays the course and accepts responsibility for being in this situation … don’t get caught up in what you hear.
“The only good thing about losing is that you find out who is in your corner and who is not,” he added. “The guys who are mentally and physically tough, they don’t worry about what is happening on the outside.”
When talking accountability, Johnson said his team received a passing mark, a group that – though currently losing – has not resorted to pointing fingers anywhere but back at themselves.
“The blame game hasn’t come out yet,” he said. “With these guys, I always have a pretty good pulse that they are working to the best of their abilities. It speaks volumes about them.”
Temple joins Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced Monday that the team has signed Rio Grande Valley guard Garrett Temple to a 10-day contract, marking his first-ever GATORADE Call-Up to the NBA.
“Garrett is a versatile player who can play multiple positions,” said Rockets Vice President of Basketball Operations and Rio Grande Valley General Manager Gerrson Rosas. “Garrett spent a lot of time with our coaching staff during the summer as a member of our Summer League entry as well as during training camp. He’s done a great job with the Vipers this season and his familiarity with the system will allow him to step right in and provide added depth at two positions where we are a little thin, due to injury.”
Temple (6-6, 190, LSU) has averaged 14.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 30 games (30 starts) with Rio Grande Valley this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by Houston on Sept. 22, 2009. Temple averaged 2.5 points and 0.3 assists in four preseason games with the Rockets before being waived on Oct. 21. He also averaged 4.6 points and 0.4 assists in five games with Houston in the 2009 NBA Summer League.
As a collegian, Temple finished his career as the all-time leader in games played (134), starts (131) and minutes played (4,432, 33.1 mpg) at LSU, averaging 6.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists over his four seasons with the Tigers. He also ranked fourth in career assists (482), seventh in steals (191) and fourth in blocks (113) in school annals. Temple was one of just nine players all-time at LSU to play on two Southeastern Conference championship teams.