In a perfect world, perhaps a year from now, Will Wade won’t have to worry about going game-to-game trying to plug leaks in his offensive and defensive schemes.
But that’s the way it is right now for the LSU basketball team.
When the Tigers ratcheted up the defense at the start of Southeastern Conference play, going 3-4 with each of those losses being winnable, the offense lagged a bit.
When the defense took a leave of absence in the next three games and LSU gave up 88.3 points a game, Wade knew it was time to focus on that going into Wednesday night’s contest at Florida — which the Gators won 73-64.
The defense was better, Wade said Friday, but the offense was missing in the first five minutes of the second half and final five minutes of the game when his team was 1 of 8 and 1 of 9 from the field, respectively.
He hopes to have both humming when LSU (13-10, 4-7 SEC) hopes to start an important four-game stretch with a victory against Ole Miss (11-13, 4-7) at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In the end Wednesday night, LSU’s nine-point loss to Florida didn’t seem like a nine-point loss.
“Last week, we spent a lot of time on our defense,” Wade said, noting his staff used about 90 percent of their prep time for Florida on defense. “Our offense had been playing well, so we plugged one leak.
“Then, when we go on to the next leak and try to plug that — the leak we just plugged the day before, the water starts coming through. … Our offense just went all out of whack.”
Probably the closest they’ve come to getting the right mix on both ends of the court came in a 75-54 beating of Arkansas on Jan. 10 in Fayetteville. Wade’s team shot 52.7 percent and held the Razorbacks to just 33.3 percent in a game that was more lopsided than the final score indicated.
“We haven’t been able to have both on the same page,” he said. “We fixed the defense for the most part … our defense was a lot better. (Florida) still scored quite a bit, but they scored in ways that maybe they hadn’t necessarily been scoring.”
The remedy, Wade hopes, is an Ole Miss team that has struggled in losing four consecutive games since topping Alabama on Jan. 23. The Rebels have also dropped four of their last five in SEC play after starting 3-2.
They rank near the bottom of the conference in field goal accuracy (12th) and 3-point field-goal percentage (10th) in league play and are around the middle of the pack in field-goal defense (eighth) and 3-point field-goal defense (ninth).
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — LSU lost its shooting touch at the worst possible times Wednesday night.
With that in mind, Wade wouldn’t mind getting at least part of what he got last Saturday in LSU’s rematch with Arkansas. The Tigers again shot 52.7 percent and had a season-high 15 makes from beyond the 3-point arc in piling up 94 points.
The only problem in the victory that gave them a season sweep of the Razorbacks was the defense gave up 86 points.
That was the third game in a row Wade’s team allowed 84 points or more, prompting the need for more defense-oriented practices leading into the Florida matchup.
In addition to wanting to put it all together with efficient play on offense and more toughness on defense, which he saw at times against Florida, Wade wants to create some separation with Ole Miss.
The game starts a four-game stretch in which the Tigers will play three times at home. They’ll also host Missouri on Feb. 17 and Vanderbilt on Feb. 20 with a Tuesday night game at Alabama thrown in.
“We need to take care of our home court,” said Wade, whose team has won two in a row at home after dropping its first three in agonizing fashion. “You need to win your home games.”
WHAT: Ole Miss at LSU
WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7
UP NEXT: at Alabama, 8 p.m. Tuesday (SEC Network)
• At 4-7 each, LSU and Ole Miss are among four teams tied for 10th in the SEC race going into Saturday’s play.
• Ole Miss has lost all five of its league games away from home and the Rebels are 0-7 overall in true road games.
• Will Wade will be the 39th SEC coach that Andy Kennedy, now in his 12th season at Ole Miss, has gone against.
Ole Miss (11-13, 4-7 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Deandre Burnett 6-2 Sr. 14.4 4.4*
G Breein Tyree 6-2 Jr. 9.7 2.8*
G Terence Davis 6-4 Jr. 13.8 6.1
F Marcanvic Hymon 6-7 Sr. 4.9 5.3
F Bruce Stevens 6-8 Jr. 10.1 4.7
G Markel Crawford 6-4 Sr. 9.8 2.3
C Dominik Olejniczak 7-0 So. 4.5 3.0
F Justas Furmanavicus 6-7 Sr. 3.3 3.0
LSU (13-10, 4-7 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Tremont Waters 5-11 Fr. 15.0 5.9*
G Skylar Mays 6-4 So. 10.7 3.7
G Daryl Edwards 6-3 Jr. 6.5 1.4
F Aaron Epps 6-10 Sr. 9.8 5.9
F Duop Reath 6-11 Sr. 13.7 5.4
G Brandon Sampson 6-5 Jr. 8.2 2.4
F Wayde Sims 6-6 So. 5.6 3.2
G Randy Onwuasor 6-3 Sr. 4.7 1.9