Originally written on Saturday Night Slant  |  Last updated 2/18/13
A month ago we wondered if LSU would be able to make a respectable season out of an 0-4 conference start. In short, yes they have. LSU is now .500 in conference play, having won six of their last eight to get to 6-6. LSU has even looked the part of a better team, having beaten the SEC cellar dwellars USC & Mississippi State convincingly in the past week.   LSU 64, South Carolina 46: The Tigers avenged their earlier OT loss to South Carolina at the Maravich Center. In this game, the Tigers travelled to Columbia with a fully healthy Johnny O'Bryant III and never really gave South Carolina a chance. Both teams opened unable to hit the broad side of a barn offensively, but LSU managed to keep the game close and went into the half with a two-point advantage. LSU outscored USC 38-22 in the second half, largely behind JOBIII's effort. O'Bryant logged 30 points and 10 rebounds, essentially accounting for half of LSU's offensive output. This follows JOBIII's 26 at Alabama the week before. If he continues to play the man possessed, LSU has an excellent chance of finishing strong down the stretch. LSU lost the early season matchup against USC largely because O'Bryant was hobbled. It's now easy to see LSU will only go as far as JOBIII can take them. LSU 80, Mississippi State 68: This game was nowhere near as close as the box score suggests. The Tigers had five players finish with double-digit scoring, led by Charles Carmouche's 21. Not only that THE TUBA GOT 13. Given, MSU probably couldn't beat any other D-I team right now, but Del Piero's improvement on the season should not go unnoticed. Johnny Jones is turning the ex-TGBFTL tuba player into a bonafide 7'3" basketball player. JOBIII notched eight points in the first half on the way to his 10 for the game, while also nabbing 11 rebounds for his seventh double double in eight games. Enough cannot be said about JOBIII's play the past two weeks. The man is playing the best basketball of his life right now and lifting the entire team to play better. LSU dispatched both of the worst teams in the conference the way a superior team should. That's notable progress that I think even Johnny Jones did not see coming at this point in the season. LSU now has a decent chance at finishing .500 in conference this year with six games left on the schedule. Next up LSU travels to a UT team that just shellacked a Nerlens Noel-less UK team by 30, which should prove a challenge for the recently surging Tigers. After that, Alabama makes a weekend trip to the Maravich Center. As long as LSU keeps playing like they have, they keep some sort of postseason tournament in play.
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