Tough timing

Timing is everything. Just ask LSU basketball coach John Brady, whose Tigers are coming off an 85-78 loss at Mississippi State in which they surrendered a season-high 13 baskets from 3-point range.

Now LSU must contend with the SEC's premier 3-point shooter, Tennessee's Chris Lofton, who is returning from a four-game injury layoff just in time for tonight's 9 p.m. tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Brady, whose team has dropped five games in a row, knows the Tigers must do a good job of controlling Lofton (3.68 baskets from 3-point range per game) and Tennessee's other perimeter threats in order to end their skid.

"We've got to find a way to win a game here pretty quickly," he said earlier this week. "It's going to be tough on Tuesday night. We seem to have gotten better offensively, but we gave up a lot of 3s against Mississippi State. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing offensively, and try to play better defensively."

Tennessee, 15-8 overall and 3-5 in SEC play, needs a win to keep its flickering NCAA Tournament hopes alive. A loss would be even more devastating for LSU, which reached the NCAA Final Four last year but is a longshot to make The Dance this year. The Tigers, 13-9 overall and 2-6 in SEC play, will need a strong finish to earn one of the 65 bids. Still, Brady says his team is not about to panic.

"Our spirit is fine," he said. "We just don't have the consistency that is necessary right now to win against teams in this league, especially on the road. We're not able to capitalize when things are going our way.

"Our team recognizes this, and we're doing all we can to work on that. I'm working with them. I don't think you can focus too much on one game or another. We're just trying to improve each day. Hopefully, that will be good enough to get a win here pretty soon."

Tonight's game will be televised by ESPN.


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