FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Thanks in part to an 81-78 upset win over Arkansas on Saturday, the LSU basketball team will be seeded fourth for the Southeastern Conference tournament that begins Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee.
LSU had to wait about seven hours after its stunning victory over Arkansas to learn it would have the No. 4 seed and the double-bye that goes with it when Ole Miss dropped an 86-77 decision to Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
LSU, which got a buzzer-beating 3-point shot from Keith Hornsby to shock 18th-ranked Arkansas, gets a pass into the quarterfinal round on Friday.
The Tigers will meet the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 5 seed Texas A&M and the survivor of the tournament opener between 12th-seeded Mississippi State and No. 13 Auburn on Wednesday night.
LSU will take the floor on Friday about 25 minutes after top-seeded Kentucky, which finished the regular season 18-0, opens quarterfinal play at noon.
Georgia and LSU both won on Saturday, the final day of the regular season, while Texas A&M and Ole Miss lost. All four finished 11-7 in league play.
In a tie-breaker based on the winning percentage among all teams involved, Georgia, which was 3-1 against the other three, emerged with the No. 3 seed and LSU (3-2) took the fourth spot. Texas A&M (2-2) got the fifth seed and Ole Miss (1-4) fell to sixth after having a shot to secure the third seed.
If Kentucky and LSU both advance through the quarterfinals, they would meet in the semifinals at noon Saturday. The game would be a rematch of their Feb. 10 battle in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, which Kentucky won 71-69.
Mickey sits out
LSU won Saturday despite the absence of forward Jordan Mickey, who sat out the game with a left shoulder injury that he sustained in the second half of Wednesday night’s loss to Tennessee.
Despite going through pregame stretch and warm-ups, Mickey, who wore a sling on his left arm on Thursday, could only watch the crucial game for the Tigers. Darcy Malone started in his place with Brian Bridgewater getting increased minutes as well.
LSU coach Johnny Jones said after the game he hopes to have Mickey, who averages 16.0 points and 9.9 rebounds a game, back for its SEC tournament opener around 2:30 p.m. Friday.
“He warmed up and the trainer (Shawn Eddy) came back and told me he wasn’t sure how aggressive he could be in terms of his movement,” Jones said. “In this type of (up-tempo game) you probably had to be 85 to 100 percent to be able to play.
“We just didn’t want to take any chances today on him injuring himself worse, or us not getting the production he’s capable of giving us. I’m hopeful he’ll be back for the tournament.”
With the game-winning shot, Hornsby finished with 13 points for his 14th consecutive game in double digits and 25th game overall this season.
Hornsby is averaging 14.3 points a game during the streak, which started with a 15-point effort in a win at Florida on Jan. 20.
It’s the longest streak for an LSU player since Tasmin Mitchell had 15 in a row during the 2008-09 season.
After posting a 2-7 road record in the SEC last season, LSU finished 6-3 away from home in conference play this year and 8-3 in all road games — counting victories at West Virginia and UAB.
In the conference, the Tigers defeated Ole Miss, Florida, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas on the road. Arkansas was 17-1 at home before LSU’s win on Saturday.
The win for LSU was only its sixth in Fayetteville with all coming since the 1999-2000 season. The Tigers, who are now 6-17 in Fayetteville all-time, had dropped four in a row to the Razorbacks in Bud Walton Arena. … LSU freshman guard Jalyn Patterson’s 20 points was a career-high, topping his previous best of 16 that he posted at Auburn on Feb. 24. … Hornsby was the only player to start all 31 regular-season games for the Tigers this season.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.