By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
Perhaps the most promising season in modern LSU Basketball history has reached its bitter end, and with it comes the end of the Ben Simmons era at LSU.
After losing 71-38 to Texas A&M in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, the Tigers (19-14, 11-7 SEC) were not selected for the NCAA Tournament and elected to decline any other postseason invitations, the school announced Sunday, bringing Simmons’ time at LSU to an almost certain conclusion.
“We will be able to utilize this time to get better and start preparations for next season,” LSU head coach Johnny Jones said in a statement. He will meet with the press Tuesday at a time to be determined.
“We fell short of the mark of getting to the NCAA Tournament; I take full responsibility for this team, and will do the things necessary to make sure we are able to reach one of our main goals at LSU in the future.”
The Tigers began the season with high hopes, thanks to the addition of Simmons, who is projected to be taken first or second overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, along with fellow five-star freshman Antonio Blakeney. The two stars joined a crop of veterans like Keith Hornsby, Tim Quarterman and other experienced players who led LSU to the NCAA Tournament in 2015.
But after a rocky 4-4 start without Hornsby and sophomore transfer Craig Victor, LSU never quite righted the ship. The Tigers looked to be on the path to the tournament after starting SEC play in first place through ten games at 8-2, but losses in four of their next five, including three straight to non-tournament teams, put LSU behind the eight ball, and the loss of Hornsby for the season in the middle of that skid was too much to overcome.
“That also factored into our decision, but it is primarily now my responsibility to begin working and preparing our players for the prospects that lie ahead,” said Jones.
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