LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – I understand it’s unreasonable to measure the Louisiana State basketball program against Kentucky, but when did LSU decide to become Rutgers?

Never mind making LSU basketball great again. Start with making LSU basketball mediocre again. It’s going to take awhile.

The school of Pete Maravich, Shaquille O’Neal and Big Baby Davis has become a program attracting smaller crowds than the LSU gymnastics team.

LSU fans are not upset. They’re only interested in which coach the Tigers are going to pick as the replacement for Johnny Jones.

Hold your breath Western Kentucky fans. Ron Higgins of nola.com offered the names of six candidates during an Internet chat Tuesday. Higgins included WKU coach Rick Stansbury, as well as former Louisville assistant coach Kevin Keatts, the head coach at North Carolina-Wilmington. (The link.)

At this point, Les Miles would be an upgrade. The Tigers have lost three Southeastern Conference games by 25 or more.

Prepare to bump that statistic to four SEC games around 9:01 Tuesday night because Jones will bring his forgettable 9-13 squad to Rupp Arena to play Kentucky at 7.

The Tigers rank last in the SEC in scoring defense, last in scoring margin and last in defensive field goal percentage.

Did I say forgettable?

Check the turnstile count at the Maravich Assembly Center. LSU ranks last in the SEC in home attendance, attracting average announced crowds of 7,075. More people would show up to watch Leonard Fournette tie his shoes.

This statistic says everything you need to know about the Tigers: Their percentage of empty seats (46.5) is higher than their offensive shooting percentage (45.5).

That’s sad.

It’s also bad for business in the Southeastern Conference as the league continues to howl that it deserves more love nationally as well as more spots in the NCAA Tournament.

LSU should be a program that ignites a powerful buzz when they arrive in Lexington. Roll the memories. Bob Pettit in the post, scoring with either hand. Pistol Pete scoring 40, 50, 60. Dale Brown tearing off his sport jacket. Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Jackson and Stanley Roberts battling the Unforgettables. Even Stromile Swift – obligatory nostalgia reference – was fun to watch.

Tonight it seems like Kentucky is playing Canisius.

Actually, that’s an insult to Canisius.

Canisius is a team the Wildcats beat by 24 in UK’s second game. Canisius is ranked ahead of LSU by Ken Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin, the Ratings Percentage Index and James Carville.

For the record, Canisius is tied for third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

If LSU was functioning the way that LSU should be functioning the Tigers should be tied for third place in the SEC. Or better.

You could argue the Tigers have the third or fourth best basketball tradition in the league. Louisiana is regularly packed with high-level prospects.

Let the record show that LSU has made four Final Fours, including a trip to Indianapolis 11 seasons ago.

Among SEC schools, only Kentucky (56), Arkansas (30) and Missouri (26) have more NCAA Tournament trips than the 21 the Tigers have.

This season LSU will be celebrate escaping the SEC’s basement. The Tigers are buried in last place with Missouri, three games behind the league’s 12th place team.

Credit LSU with nine straight defeats, eight in league play. How bad has it been?

How much time do you have?

When LSU lost to South Carolina by 25 points in Baton Rouge last week the Tigers trailed for all but 14 seconds.

When LSU lost to Florida by 35 points in Baton Rouge last month. Scott Rabalais of the Baton Rouge Advocate estimated the crowd was closer to 3,500, about half of the announced crowd of 7,009.

When Jones was asked for his reaction to the pathetic performance against the Gators, this is part of what he said:

“We certainly owe our fans an apology who came out to watch us tonight or who had the opportunity to witness through TV or radio or however they had an opportunity.”

Jones was sorry. Fans of SEC basketball should be sorry, too.

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