LSU men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones couldn’t help but beam as he flashed back to 1984 and reminisced about his Senior Night.
The night couldn’t have gotten off to a more catastrophic start for the former LSU guard. Jones burst through a banner as he was introduced in the starting lineup, but he slipped on a piece of the banner as he turned to fist-pump at the crowd. Jones cut open his left wrist when he hit the floor, but opted to play through the injury.
The stars aligned for Jones, who closed out his playing days in dramatic fashion. LSU was leading Florida by one point in the waning seconds when Jones picked off a pass and turned it into a layup at the other end to clinch the win for the Tigers.
Jones’ Senior Night mirrors the present-day Tigers’ (18-10, 9-8 Southeastern Conference) SEC campaign. The first four games of the conference schedule spelled disaster for the Tigers, as they came up short in each contest. But since then, LSU is 9-4 and is poised to improve that record when Ole Miss (22-8, 11-6 SEC) pays a visit to Baton Rouge on Saturday for Senior Day and the final game of the regular season.
“I don’t think any team wants to see us in the conference tournament right now,” said senior guard Charles Carmouche. “We could pretty much go at it with anybody, especially at a neutral site.”
Carmouche has been on a tear, scoring 20 points or more in four straight games. Carmouche will be honored along with senior center Andrew Del Piero, senior forward Eddie Ludwig and walk-on junior guard Mychal Williams. Williams is a senior in terms of academics and has another year of eligibility remaining, but he will be honored with the seniors because it is uncertain if he will make the team next year.
Jones expressed the necessity of defending Ole Miss junior guard Marshall Henderson, whose dangerous jump shot has made him the SEC’s leading scorer with 19.6 points per game. The riotous Rebel guard has solidified his place as college basketball’s bad boy and is infamous for taunting opposing fans and, in one instance, throwing ice at his own student section.
“The intensity level will have to be there all the time,” Jones said. “You can’t have any downtime. We refer to playing every second, every play all the time. When you talk about guarding someone like [Henderson], I think that’s ideal. … He has no limitation on what he’ll do or where he’ll do it from.”