Tigers trying to iron out issues as SEC play starts Saturday at Vanderbilt _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --LSU's Keith Hornsby goes for a layup in LSU's 77-71 loss to Wake Forest on Tuesday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

On the day after their latest loss and with Southeastern Conference play looming, the LSU men’s basketball team and coaches were looking for answers Wednesday.

They started the process with a heart-to-heart, closed-door team meeting in which each individual had a chance to get things off his chest to start the preparations for the league opener Saturday at Vanderbilt.

LSU fell to 7-5 with a 77-71 loss to Wake Forest on Tuesday night, the Tigers’ final outing before opening league play with games at Vanderbilt and Florida sandwiched around a home date with No. 10 Kentucky — all in an eight-day span.

“Some of it was just asking everybody what they thought the issues were,” senior guard Keith Hornsby said Thursday. “I don’t want to give too much information because it was a closed-door meeting, but we’re really just trying to move in the right way.

“It was a great meeting, I can tell you that much. It was a positive meeting, a serious meeting. Everybody was involved: players, coaches. It was good, it was constructive.”

LSU coach Johnny Jones said the meeting was needed because his team must understand and enjoy the process going through it, adding the Tigers have enough talent to finish games like Tuesday night.

In a tightly-played game that featured 11 ties, LSU couldn’t hang on in the final minutes against Wake Forest.

“That was one of the things we talked about mostly, addressing, offensively and defensively, how some of the games have played out,” Jones said. “We were making sure everyone was on the same page and understanding their roles, and we’re all aiming for the same goals.”

Quarterman scuffling

One of the things the Tigers need going forward is for guard Tim Quarterman to snap back after a tough four-game stretch.

Since tying his career high with a 27-point performance in a loss at Houston on Dec. 13, Quarterman has hit 7-of-20 field-goal attempts and has just 20 points in that span.

Quarterman said Thursday that Jones asked him a couple of games ago to be the Tigers’ floor general, to run the offense from the point and look for his shot second.

As a result, Quarterman said he started second-guessing his shot and had some turnovers — eight in the past four games — as well.

“I was less aggressive than I was a couple of games before, but (Wednesday) he (Jones) told me to go back out there and be aggressive and look for my shot. Going into these next few games and the New Year, I’m going to be aggressive and try to help my team win.”

Patterson returns

After missing four games with a knee injury, guard Jalyn Patterson returned Tuesday night and played 13 minutes.

Patterson didn’t score, but he suffered no setbacks from an off-the-court injury he said occurred when he tripped over something and his kneecap popped out of place.

Patterson said he called trainer Shawn Eddy, who made a house call and popped the knee back into place.

“It was painful; I’m not going to lie,” Patterson said.

Jones said the Tigers missed Patterson’s presence on both ends of the floor.

“He’s an additional guy that we can put out there and can count on,” Jones said. “We never have any issues when he’s in the game on either end of the floor. … We can count on him.”

Sampson sits out

While Patterson was back Tuesday, the Tigers played without guard Brandon Sampson.

Sampson was held out with an undisclosed injury that Jones said could have caused more damage had he played.

Jones said that with the rest, the hope is Sampson will heal quickly enough to be available for Saturday’s game.

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.