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LSU Basketball Staying Tough Through Number of "Difficult Situations"

Coach Will Wade details difficulties in preparing for two ranked teams this week, momentum that's being built

Preparations for this week's slate of ranked SEC opponents hasn't been as smooth sailing for LSU as you might expect.  

Facing No. 16 Kentucky and No. 18 Tennessee in the PMAC, the Tigers were in desperate need of two quality wins over ranked opponents after being knocked down by Auburn on the road. 

Even forward Darius Days admitted after the game Saturday the Tigers needed that loss in Auburn to get back to square one and truly figure out what this team could look like with more discipline to their game. The national perspective around this team was that they hadn't beaten any teams with good resumes. 

But this week there were certainly plenty of distractions that could've knocked the purple and gold into a further free fall, but instead this team used it as further motivation. For example, the PMAC water heater hasn't been working as of late and there is currently a leak in the practice court, which forced the Tigers to move practice to one half of the court while preparing for the Volunteers.

"We're used to difficult circumstances, we don't even have hot water in here," Wade said. "We have to move practice because the roof leaks. Our guys are used to it. The tougher the situations, the better we do."

This is nothing new for Will Wade's team, that's had to prove itself time and time again this season to start earning a little more national attention. When guard Adam Miller went down prior to the season, a huge piece to the puzzle was lost and the team had to adjust.

As a result, Brandon Murray, Eric Gaines and Justice Williams as of recently have taken on bigger roles and their strong play has helped this team be in a position where it's considered the No. 1 defense in the country.

Eason, who has been one of the premier players not just in the SEC but the country, has seen the resilience of this team dating back to the summer. 

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“We’re hard workers. We get after it in practice. We’re always working," Eason said. "We had guys like Days diving on the floor in July. The leadership that he and our other leaders bring is really important, and it has really fed into our other guys.”

The way LSU's schedule has been structured in conference play, the early portion of games hasn't been too kind, with the team set to face Florida, Alabama and Tennessee on the road and Arkansas at home over its next four games. At 14-1, these next four games will test how much the Tigers learned on the road in their loss to Auburn.

"We beat two top-20 teams in the country at home this week. We probably haven't had too many weeks like that around here. That's what you want and our kids deserve it. They work hard and I was excited for our guys."

This team is as locked in on a game to game preparation as can possibly be expected. In addition to having two of the their better practices ahead of the Tennessee game, Wade said senior guard Xavier Pinson organized a team viewing of the Ole Miss-Tennessee game while Wade was doing his radio show Wednesday night.

"We've got some really good stuff with these guys. We gotta keep it going, stay disciplined," Wade said. 

"If you stay the same in this league, you're gonna get passed by," Wade said. "We've got to keep getting better. We had two unbelievable days of practice, two best days we've had all year long leading up to this game. Our guys were locked in."

With another piece of adversity to overcome with Pinson's knee injury, this group will really be tested Wednesday night if he's not able to suit up against Florida. But maybe that's ok for the Tigers, because as Wade said, this team has a knack for thriving on difficult situations.  

"You've gotta be great at home which we were the last two games. Now we gotta be able to do it in a hostile environment, gotta be able to stay together, stay connected," Wade said. "We've got some positive momentum but now we've gotta dig out a tough road game."