By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
Johnny Jones didn’t even blink.
Asked if he was satisfied with his team’s effort right now, after a winless week in the SEC, LSU’s head coach promptly affirmed.
“Absolutely,” he said. “We’re sitting there second place in a very tough league. Would we like to be in first place? For sure. But I think these guys have done an excellent job positioning ourselves in one of the tougher leagues in the country and competed at a high level.”
LSU @ Arkansas, 6 p.m.
LSU Sports Radio Network
The Tigers entered last week in sole possession of first place in the SEC, but losses to Alabama at home and on the road to Tennessee moved them a game back of Kentucky. Heading into a Tuesday matchup at Arkansas, Jones knows his team needs leadership from within, especially with the news that senior guard Keith Hornsby is out indefinitely after re-aggravating the sports hernia injury that sidelined him for LSU’s first seven games.
“We do need some leadership,” said Jones. “Someone has to step up. It can be from a freshman, in (Ben) Simmons, or a sophomore, in Craig Victor. Someone.”
Speaking of Simmons, Jones addressed the academic matter that led Jones to bench his freshman star to start in Knoxville. Simmons ended up playing all 36 minutes after he was subbed in, and Jones has been pleased with Simmons’ response to the punishment.
“The amazing thing about him: He’s all in,” said Jones. “He’s bought in. He wants to do the things required of him and expected of him. He’s 10 toes in. He understands the mistakes he’s made, dealt with the consequences and moved on. That’s what you admire about a guy like that’s willing to show some type of leadership and doing what he’s supposed to.”
The Tigers head to Fayetteville for a 6 p.m. matchup with Arkansas (13-14, 6-8 SEC) on Tuesday. The Razorbacks snapped a three-game losing skid with an 84-72 home win over Missouri on Saturday and are 13-3 at home this year, losing only to Auburn and Kentucky in conference games at Bud Walton Arena. LSU, meanwhile, is tied for the league-lead in conference road wins with three, no small feat in the league where road wins are hardest to come by.
“We’ve won three road games,” Jones said. “I’m not sure how many other teams in our league have been able to do that, in the toughest league in the country in terms of people protecting their home floor.”
- Jones characterized earlier reports on Hornsby’s injury as erroneous, saying there’s no definitive timetable for his return, but that he was not ruled out for the season presently: “He was still with the doctor earlier today. There’s nothing definitive about his situation right now. There’s no timetable set for his return, if he will be able to return.”
- On replacing Hornsby, Jones said the approach will be by committee, but named Brandon Sampson and Jalyn Patterson as key figures moving forward. “I don’t think it will be one individual. It will have to be several guys.”
- Hornsby updated his injury status on Facebook Monday night.
Keith Hornsby posted an injury update on Facebook. Says the injury is "unpredictable" and he's "week to week." pic.twitter.com/sImbjmkpAb
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) February 23, 2016