Saturday's buzzkill notwithstanding, the Hogs are enjoying a week of much needed and welcomed rest heading into Friday's quarterfinal matchup at the SEC tourney with the Tennessee state champ.
(Of course, our first draw, regardless of who it is, will have a home-court advantage. Or should, anyway.)
Hornsby had the range on Saturday afternoon in Bud Walton, and disgust now somewhat muted by the passage of time, the way it is, is this: nothing really changes for us. LSU was playing for its NCAA life. A loss and it likely had to win the thing in Nashville.
Meanwhile, we'd locked up the SEC 2 seed (thank goodness for that double bye) and looked the part of a tired group of young men hoping to ride the wave of Bud Walton energy to a win. Only, LSU would have none of it.
We did lose a possible 4 seed on Saturday. Of course, run the table in Nashville and we're looking at a probable 3, but given our recent history, let's take things one game at a time. Win the ones we're supposed to — even if we put away Vandy/UT, the UGa/Ole Miss winner looms as a tricky barrier to the final — and a 5 seed it likely is. It's been a while since we've been even in that stratosphere. Once upon a time, kids, a 5 seed would've elicited sighs.
And who knows what damage we could inflict into March. This inexplicable bunch of Hogs could still make a run. But, we could fall victim to the 5/12 curse as well. I doubt that'll happen, this team having more than proven its mettle. (And of course I'm assuming a 5 seed; lots still to happen before we get there.)
It was evident even on Thursday in Columbia east that monkeys were riding our backs, the grind of 30 games and some emotionally exhausting road wins taking its toll. The 20-point first-half lead almost exhausted our cache, but we found enough left to scrape out of what became a pretty deep hole. Pulling ourselves out of it was clutch, and let's be honest with ourselves. Thirty-four minutes into that game, how many of us expected the outcome we got?
Previous Hog teams of recent history would've lost that game by 20. And that's what kept me believing that we'd pull it out — some how, some way — on Saturday, despite evidence that suggested we just didn't have it that day. Not that we didn't, but it was obvious LSU wanted it more. Certainly, the Tigers needed it more.
So, you're welcome, Boudreaux Nation. All 2,500 of you down there who truly care about basketball. Looks like you'll get another shot at Shelby, er, the Aggies. (A word of advice. Wear the yellow unis. Maybe they'll think it's TT.)
For our part, we'll need to be rested and ready on Friday. Harvesting all the energy we can out of this much needed week of rest is crucial. Our legs = our strength, what wears opponents down, and they were fading last week.
Besides, Vandy's not playing like the same team we beat in Fayetteville a while back, and well, Tennessee's always a tussle. Both games with the Vols this year have been exhausting to watch, much less play or coach in.
Rested and ready, though, I think we can survive to Sunday. And maybe by then, UK's superhuman legs will falter a bit themselves. Whatever happens, though, isn't it nice to be sitting here in early March contemplating seeds and possible rematches with UK in the SEC tourney?
Saturday was a bummer, sure, but I'll take that.