With only four games left in the regular season, the NCAA tournament ambitions of the LSU basketball team have to remain a long-term goal.
Even with Saturday’s 70-63 victory over Florida, LSU is still on the bubble to earn a spot in the 68-team bracket that will be filled out March 15 — even though most national projections have them in the field.
“We’ve just got to keep pushing and playing as hard as we can possibly play, and I think we have to finish in that top tier (of the Southeastern Conference) — top four or five,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said when asked if he had a magic number in mind. “Word is we’ll get six in from the conference, so we have got to do a great job making sure we win as many games as possible.”
NCAA.com had LSU (19-8, 8-6 SEC) with an RPI of 52 as of Saturday, but the Tigers need to move up in the next four games against Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Arkansas before the SEC tournament.
“We’re very capable, so we’ve got to take it one game at a time and let the committee and everyone else decide those things,” Jones said. “We’ve got to do our part and make sure we’re attractive enough that they’re looking at us.”
LSU was tied for fifth with Georgia in the SEC standings going into Saturday’s play.
Tough on Gators
In two games in just more than a month, the Florida basketball team has seen all it wants of LSU sophomore forward Jarell Martin.
Martin poured in a career-high 28 points — two of them coming on a spectacular between-the-legs windmill dunk late in the first half — and added a team-high 13 rebounds. For good measure, he nailed a 3-point shot from the left wing as the first-half buzzer sounded.
In a 79-61 win at Florida on Jan. 20, Martin had 22 points and eight rebounds — giving him 50 points and 21 rebounds in the two games.
Make it 10
LSU guard Keith Hornsby had 12 points against Florida, pushing his double-digit scoring streak to 10 games.
Interestingly, the streak started on Jan. 20 at Florida when Hornsby had 15 points in a rout of the Gators. Over the 10-game stretch, Hornsby is averaging 13.3 points per outing.
He is one game shy of matching the 11-game double-digit streak that forward Jordan Mickey put together earlier this season.
LSU earned its first two-game season sweep of Florida in basketball since the 1990-91 season.
Of course, it’s become more difficult to do since conference teams don’t play every team twice a year like they used to. That changed for the 1991-92 season when Arkansas and South Carolina came in to form a 12-team league.
It was the fifth time since then, however, that LSU and Florida have met twice, with the second game in the SEC tournament the other four times. Florida won both games in 1999, 2006 and 2013, and they split in 2003.
LSU is 19-2 this season when outshooting its opponent from the field. Despite hitting just 40.0 percent Saturday, the Tigers won after Florida shot just 35.3 percent. … The win was the first for LSU over Florida in the PMAC since Feb. 24, 2009. After that, the Gators started a six-game winning streak that ended with the Tigers’ victory at Gainesville last month. … Florida center Jon Horford is the son of Tito Horford, a 7-foot-1 center who signed with LSU in 1985 but was kicked off the team before ever playing a game for the Tigers. The elder Horford’s other son, Al, played for the Gators and is now with the Atlanta Hawks. Jon Horford had six points and nine rebounds Saturday.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.