In the wake of an unfulfilling 1-2 showing in the Paradise Jam, the LSU men’s basketball team clearly saw the things it needs to work on before Southeastern Conference play gets underway in early January.
The biggest thing when the Tigers went back to work upon returning from the Virgin Islands was their outside shooting — specifically 3-point shooting.
Then again, that’s been a season-long issue which LSU (3-2) will hope to take steps toward correcting in a matchup with McNeese State (2-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“Outside shooting, I think, reared its head,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said about his team’s performance in defeating Weber State and losing to Old Dominion and Clemson. “We didn’t hit enough shots.”
The toughest pill to swallow was their shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
In the three games, LSU was 9-of-37 from 3-point range. Throw in a 2-of-19 showing against Texas Tech in their last outing before the Paradise Jam, and the Tigers are 19-of-79 (24.1) percent for the season.
Jones used LSU’s best outside shooter, guard Keith Hornsby, as an example. Hornsby was 2-of-12 from the field against Clemson — missing all five of his 3-point shots — but Jones said he didn’t necessarily take poor shots.
They simply were shots that turned out bad because they didn’t go down.
“He had some good looks, no forced shots,” Jones said. “We know the capable shooter he is, and we feel as the season progresses those shots will balance out and will certainly go down.
“On some other shots, we have to do a better job of picking our time to shoot inside, outside,” he said. “On some, we took some early-shot opportunities that we possibly should have waited on. We didn’t do a good job recognizing that. Clock management is really important, and we have to do a better job of that.”
As a result, it was a point of emphasis when they went back to work knowing that they had a 12-point cushion on three occasions in the first half against Old Dominion and lost by nine and then had a four-point lead against Clemson in the fourth-place game before fading in the final four minutes and wound up losing 64-61.
“We’ve got to keep a team down. … We can’t allow a team to get back into it,” said forward Jordan Mickey, who’s averaging a double-double for the season with 17.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. “We have to execute our offense (better) and get to the basket and get fouled.
“We probably took too many jump shots down the stretch (against Clemson) and allowed them to get back in the game. We took too many quick shots.”
“We may have taken a couple of ill-advised shots,” Jones said. “They’re wide open, they look good. They are capable shooters, but at the same time it probably wasn’t the best time to maybe take some of those shots. But we have guys who can shoot the basketball.”
The McNeese State contest, the first of three this week that includes games with UMass on Tuesday night and Thursday night at West Virginia, will take LSU into a nine-day break for final exams.
To be sure, it’s an important week for a team that believes it let one slip away against Clemson.
“We can’t wait to get back on the court,” said Mickey, a member of the Paradise Jam all-tournament team.
“It’s going to take a little time for us to gel, get the chemistry exactly where we need it, but we are excited about the guys that we have an opportunity to battle with every night,” Jones said. “We saw a lot of good signs from this team.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.