Is LSU Basketball a Pretender or Contender?

Jacob KerrContributor IJanuary 10, 2009

The LSU basketball season has shown that LSU can play this year. Many believe that LSU can't win away from home because they play good teams. LSU has had to play Texas A&M in Houston, which was somewhat like a home game, and played Utah in Salt Lake City. Now why would I say that LSU is actually good? Well, there is a very good reason for that.

Against Texas A&M, LSU kept the game close for most of the game, but a questionable foul called against Marcus Thornton, which could have gone either way, just about killed LSU's chances of winning because he made the lay-up but was called for a charge. If the referees would have called a block, maybe LSU would have been able to win, but it happens. LSU could get a lot of good from that game.

Against Utah, LSU's defense was just exploited the whole time. Utah's Luke Nevill was able to drop 23 points on the combined defensive efforts from Chris Johnson, Quinton Thornton, Storm Warren, and a little bit from Tasmin Mitchell. On that night, when LSU lost 91-61, not many shots were falling for LSU.

LSU's starters didn't do as well as they needed to. First, Garrett Temple had zero points, Bo Spencer had five points, Chris Johnson had 13 points, Tasmin Mitchell had 14 points, and Marcus Thornton had 16 points. LSU was just 4-11 from long range and 20-60 from the field. LSU's bench only contributed 10 points, which won't help LSU win if only the starters are putting up numbers.

Second, LSU was outrebounded 37-29, which is very unusual for LSU. Utah just took advantage of Chris' size and exploited it to perfection; Nevill shooting 11-13 helped Utah to pull away from LSU in the second half. Also, this isn't one of the teams that LSU would usually play, but if the two teams meet next year, LSU will want some revenge for this defeat.

Now, just look at what LSU has been able to do at home. They have been able to take care of most of their in-state rivals. LSU was also able to beat a good Washington State team, who try to win basically on the defensive side. LSU was able to end the game on a 24-5 run after being down by seven with nine minutes to go.

LSU's new coach, Trent Johnson, has been able to turn around a team who would struggle against teams like Southeastern and Troy to a team that now has a shot at winning the SEC. The team is led by the senior leadership of Garrett Temple, who is one of the best defenders on the team. I believe that LSU can go far unless injuries begin take a toll on LSU, which I believe won't be a problem.