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Monday, September 22, 2014
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(Special to the American Press)

(Special to the American Press)

Too much hot air bursts LSU's bubble

Last Modified: Monday, February 24, 2014 12:24 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

For most young American college males, it’s the ultimate, defiant rallying cry.

Road trip!

LSU’s kids just don’t get it.

This was supposed to be the year that the Tigers’ talent was sufficient to get back into the NCAA tournament, if only for a toe-tap appearance.

It would be a start to getting LSU back to relevance in the sport.

It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

There have been some encouraging signs at home, most notably a convincing victory over nationally ranked Kentucky, even some others games where the Maravich Assembly did a reasonable imitation of the Deaf Dome of old.

But then the cry always goes out.

Road trip!

And the Tigers keep showing up in Athens or Tuscaloosa, Fayetteville or someplace similar looking like rubes from Hickville gawking at Times Square.

Teams looking to take the proverbial “next step” up the food chain figure out a way to beg, borrow or steal an occasional victory away from the friendly confines.

The Tigers look like they’ve never been away from the neighborhood without mom and dad.

Good teams are wise to the road.

Send LSU to New Orleans and they’d fall for “Bet you I can tell you where you got them shoes from?”

LSU is 6-1 for SEC games in the Assembly Center, having lost only its first test against Tennessee.

The Tigers are 1-5 on the road, having won only their first trip, to hapless South Carolina, before losing five straight.

At home they look like a pretty good basketball team. On a road trip they come up with more pratfalls than the Griswolds.

And it’s not like they’ve been venturing into a murderers’ row or a little shop of hoop horrors.

A slow start doomed the Alabama trip, they couldn’t hold on late at Ole Miss. Georgia was a foul-fest disaster in front of at least a couple of dozen loyal Bulldog fans. Texas A&M wasn’t much more lively and they never did much to scare anybody at Arkansas against a Razorbacks team they’d handled with relative ease on the home court.

They’re also a much different team with Johnny O’Bryant III and/or Jordan Mickey on the bench, which always seems to happen with a couple of early fouls.

So Saturday they’ll give Kentucky’s Rupp Arena a shot.

Yeah, that should be the breakthrough spot. That ought to be the answer.

Actually, good luck with that one.

It’s not a place for novice travelers.

The dreaded Big Blue mist wafts all around the joint. Experienced travelers have trouble catching a break.

Not to mention that Kentucky will have a revenge factor working after the Tigers beat the ’Cats 87-82 in Baton Rouge less than a month ago.

It probably only annoyed the Big Blue faithful, who are already smarting because Florida is clearly the best team in the SEC this season.

SEC schedule conspiracists take note: while LSU was denied a date with Kentucky in football, the conference apparently made up for it by putting the Wildcats on the Tigers’ basketball schedule twice (in the current format, you get a home-and-home with five of the other 13 conference teams).

But LSU’s take on it is that it works in its favor.

Two weeks ago, sitting at 6-4 in conference play and taking some encouraging strides (at home), the Tigers were a legitimate bubble team, at least in the conversation.

After disasters on what should have been — for a good team — fairly leisurely road trips to Texas A&M and Arkansas, they’ve been tossed back in the trash bin.

Thanks for playing. Better luck next year.

So much for making a statement.

Unless …

A victory at Rupp Arena, now, that might make up for some of the previous road mishaps, at least get somebody on the selection committee’s attention in a win-a-couple-games-in-the-SEC-tournament sort of way.

Even better, next week LSU gets a trip to Florida, which starts four seniors and is the No. 2-ranked team in the country despite being in the SEC.

Of course, you have to win those games to get tournament tongues a wagging.

So forget I even brought it up.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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