LSU coach Johnny Jones will be searching for defensive answers when the 1-2 Tigers travel to College Station, Texas, Wednesday night to face the 0-3 Aggies.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

After trying a lineup makeover for his team’s previous game at Texas A&M, it’s back to the drawing board for LSU men's basketball coach Johnny Jones.

Three new starters, which produced a fifth different starting lineup in 15 games this season, had little positive effect in the Tigers' 92-62 loss Wednesday night. So Jones will keep trying to find the right combination to pull the Tigers out of a rut that has deepened over the past three weeks.

Poor defensive play has carried over to the offensive end, another cause for concern for LSU (9-6, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) going into Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. matchup with Alabama (9-6, 2-1) in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Whether that means another new lineup or a second consecutive start for guards Jalyn Patterson and Branden Jenkins and forward Wayde Sims — who were on the floor for the first time with guard Antonio Blakeney and forward Duop Reath — remains to be seen.

“We’ve got to keep searching,” Jones said Thursday, less than 24 hours after the Tigers’ most recent loss. “I’m not sure about lineup changes, so to speak, but we have to figure out exactly what works for us.”

Whatever it is, LSU has to find out in a hurry.

Since an 8-2 start, the Tigers have dropped four of five going into the game with Alabama, which was 2-0 in conference play before Tuesday night’s 80-67 loss to No. 23 Florida. LSU’s only win in the league came at last-place Missouri, but the Tigers couldn’t build any momentum off that victory and followed it with a 17-point home loss to Mississippi State and a 30-point defeat at Texas A&M.

Defense continues to be a major liability for LSU; A&M shot 56.7 percent from the floor, many of them on fast-break layups in the second half, after Mississippi State shot 54.1 percent last Saturday.

On Wednesday night, LSU didn’t help itself — especially as it fell behind 21-5 in the first eight minutes. The Tigers, who recently ranked second in the league in field-goal accuracy at 47.5 percent, went on to shoot 36.8 percent after connecting on just 40.3 percent of their field-goal attempts against State.

It all added up to another frustrating night for Jones and his Tigers, who have lost three times by 30 points or more this season and have given up 96, 95 and 92 points in their three SEC setbacks.

“Unfortunately for us, even after making lineup changes and putting ourselves in a situation where we thought the defense should be able to improve, we gave up some baskets,” Jones said. “We got down early and had to fight an uphill battle for most of the evening.”

After that ragged start, LSU rallied and cut its deficit to five with 6½ minutes to go in the first half before Texas A&M had two offensive surges to end the period and start the second half that finished the Tigers.

“We’ve got to do a little more defensively with this group,” Jones said. We’ve obviously had to make some changes, and we’ve got to do more combinations of things to allow this team to play the way we need to … and to be able to create some opportunities on the defensive end.”

Lately, teams have turned the tables on LSU and forced turnovers, or in Texas A&M’s case, blocked 11 shots, with at least some of them being converted into easy baskets on the other end.

“You want (field-goal) attempts instead of turnovers, and people have scored off our turnovers,” Jones said. “When you score, teams are taking the ball out of the net. When you’re not shooting 30-something percent, your defense has an opportunity to get set.”

Saturday's matchup

WHAT: Alabama at LSU

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center

TV: SEC Network

RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7


• The teams split two games a year ago, with each winning on the other’s home floor. Alabama won 76-69 in the PMAC on Feb. 17.

• SEC teams are 17-9 on the road this season, with Bama winning its only game away from home over Mississippi State 68-58 in its league opener.

• Alabama guard Corban Collins played at LSU in 2013 before transferring to Morehead State. He joined the Tide this year as a graduate transfer.

Probable lineups

Alabama (9-6, 2-1 SEC)


Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.

G Dazon Ingram 6-5 Fr. 9.8 3.7*

G Avery Johnson Jr. 5-11 So. 7.1 1.7

G/F Riley Norris 6-7 Jr. 7.1 3.7

F Braxton Key 6-8 Fr. 10.4 5.5

F Donta Hall 6-9 So. 6.1 5.7

Key reserves

Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.

G Ar’Mond Davis 6-6 Jr. 6.6 1.5

G Corban Collins 6-3 Sr. 7.2 2.0

F Jimmie Taylor 6-10 Sr. 5.1 3.5

* assists

LSU (9-6, 1-3)


Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.

G Jalyn Patterson 6-1 Jr. 5.9 3.5*

G Antonio Blakeney 6-4 So. 17.5 5.1

G Branden Jenkins 6-4 Jr. 2.5 1.0

F Wayde Sims 6-6 Fr. 5.8 3.5

F Duop Reath 6-10 Jr. 13.8 6.0

Key reserves

Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.

G Skylar Mays 6-4 Fr. 6.1 3.9*

G Brandon Sampson 6-5 So. 11.2 3.1

F Aaron Epps 6-10 Jr. 5.8 4.4

* assists

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.