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Resilience defines LSU men’s basketball throughout season

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Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013 5:52 pm

Do me a favor: open up Webster’s Dictionary and look up the word “resilience.”

You might find the definition, “the power or ability to recover quickly from a setback, depression, illness, overwork or other adversity.” Or there’s an outside chance you’ll discover a picture of the 2012-13 LSU men’s basketball team.

The Tigers’ determination doesn’t translate to an NCAA tournament résumé, but one thing is for sure: LSU makes sure it plays every game all-out until the clock reads all zeros.

Just ask senior guard Charles Carmoucheor sophomore forward Johnny O’Bryant III, who tallied 54 and 51 minutes respectively in LSU’s triple overtime triumph against bitter rival Alabama, 97-94.

How easy would it have been for LSU to lie down, trailing Alabama by 10 points with 3:37 left in regulation?

Instead of pulling out the victory, LSU could have sat back and watched Crimson Tide guard Trevor Releford put on a show, as he piled up 36 points on 14-18 shooting.

Sophomore point guard Anthony Hickey could have pouted after being benched for a substantial stretch of the second half instead of hitting a crucial 3-pointer in the third overtime to put LSU up by four, all but sealing the victory.

Luckily for the Tigers, none of those outcomes happened.

On the 35th anniversary of the 1978 LSU men’s hoops team’s overtime victory against No. 1 Kentucky, the current Tigers didn’t want to disappoint.

And they certainly didn’t.

The triple overtime affair Saturday afternoon in the PMAC might have been one of the best games ever played in the building. The lead changed hands 16 times throughout the tussle while the score was tied on nine occasions.

LSU had no business coming back from a 10-point disadvantage with less than four minutes to play, but nobody seemed to tell them. After watching this team all season, I can’t say I’m surprised.

Over and over again, the Tigers have come back from double-digit deficits to either win games or make them far closer than they should have been.

The best example of LSU’s refusal to go down without a fight actually occurred in a loss Dec. 22 in Milwaukee, Wisc. LSU trailed the current No. 17 team in the country, Marquette, by double-digits at halftime and multiple times in the second half.

Yet the Tigers continually brought the deficit within striking distance, before finally falling to the Golden Eagles 84-80.

After the hard-fought loss, I knew this team was something more than a fill-in before coach Johnny Jones’ high-profile recruiting class steps on campus next season.

When I talked to Hickey a few weeks ago when LSU had a 12-7 mark, the same record the 2011-12 team had at that point, I asked him what the biggest difference was between this season’s team and last season’s.

“We’re more confident,” Hickey said. “We feel no pressure.”

And why should they? The Tigers have nothing to lose.

No one expected LSU to compete in the Southeastern Conference after starting out 0-4 in the league. Ten games later, the Tigers are 7-7 in the SEC.

Talentwise, the Tigers aren’t a 16-9 team. They have an ex-tuba player at center, a point guard no SEC school wanted running the show and a journeyman fifth-year senior playing at his third school in five years.

None of that matters to LSU. The Tigers, winners of seven of their last 10 games, are playing with house money.

Win or lose, they’ll continue to adjust to any adversity coming their way — the definition of resilience.

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