LSU decides to go home; left out of NCAA, Tigers want no part of NIT

NASHVILLE — LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones has decided to call it a season.

LSU Tigers forward Ben Simmons (25) looks on after his third foul in the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies during the SEC conference tournament at Bridgestone Arena.

After meeting with his coaching staff and players on Sunday afternoon following an embarrassing 71-38 loss to Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals Saturday, Jones announced his team will not be playing in any postseason tournaments. The Tigers, who finished 19-14 overall and in a tie for third in the SEC at 11-7, were expected to play in a road National Invitation Tournament game this week.

“We will be able to utilize this time to get better and start preparations for next season,” Jones said in a release by LSU’s sports information department. “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.”.

LSU, with Ben Simmons, just played the worst game all season to bow out of SEC tourney.

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This is believed to be the first time LSU has turned down NIT consideration.

Jones said the recent loss of senior starting guard Keith Hornsby for the rest of the season because of a hernia injury weighed into his decision. He had season-ending surgery on Tuesday after aggravating the injury that caused him to miss the first seven games of the season and the final six. Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney also played LSU’s two games in the SEC Tournament “under the weather,” Jones said, and he would have been “questionable at best” for future games.

“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,” Jones said.

The NIT is generally considered good experience for teams returning a lot of players for the next season. LSU, though, fully expects to lose star freshman point forward Ben Simmons to the NBA Draft in June as he is the projected No. 1 pick.

Junior starting guard Tim Quarterman is also considering leaving LSU one year early for the draft, and Blakeney could well consider an early departure for the draft as well as he finished the season very strongly.

Glenn Guilbeau writes for Gannett Louisiana, a part of the USA TODAY NETWORK.

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