2.2.19 LSU vs Arkansas

LSU sophomore guard Tremont Waters (3) brings the ball down the court during the Tigers' 89-90 loss to Arkansas on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in the PMAC.

Our modern society is not built for agreement.

Often, it seems that we live in a perpetual cycle of argument and division as we find new ideas that outrage and offend us. Our discordant emotions are fueled by the engines of social media that drive opposing factions to battle on the internet.

There are, however, always exceptions, and losing happens to be one of those caveats.

Losing is a universally awful idea. Though individuals may feel the pain of defeat at different times and to different degrees, the sting is felt by every human no matter their race, religion, creed, gender or orientation.

We all hate to lose, and we all love to win. Sometimes, however, losing teaches us valuable lessons, and defeat creates a sense of urgency that is often absent in a winning environment.

The LSU men’s basketball team may have been a victim of the complacency that follows victory. The Tigers were cruising through their schedule and enjoyed a 10-game winning streak this season that didn’t always look like the dominant run it sounded like.

The Tigers survived close calls against Arkansas and Missouri on the road before pulling out victories in overtime, and they let teams like Georgia and Texas A&M hang around before finally putting those opponents away.

Turnovers, foul trouble and poor shooting have plagued LSU for some time now, but the team continued to get the job done. The Tigers kept winning, and, for a while, that was all that mattered. Then the team’s winning streak came to a crashing halt with an 89-90 loss to Arkansas at home.

The same problems were present that night. The Tigers suffered 21 turnovers and had shot a dismal 20.8 percent from beyond the three-point arch. Unlike previous games, however, LSU felt the bitter taste of losing this time around.

Maybe that’s not as bad as it sounds, though. This Tiger team has the potential to make a lot of noise in the postseason and has even drawn comparisons to the 2005 Final Four team. Those high expectations can be cast aside if the team doesn’t start playing a complete 40 minutes of basketball.

We’ve seen LSU underperform and win games, and we fantasize about how the Tigers would look if the team finally played a complete game. The pollsters seem to agree, awarding LSU with a No. 19 rank and sliding the team only two spots to No. 21 after the loss.

The question is whether or not the Tigers learn from the loss or allow a tough home defeat to unravel the strides they’ve taken this season. The team will have to answer this question quickly, as their schedule only gets tougher. The final nine games of the season will feature five away games, including an away contest against No. 5 Kentucky, and a home game against top-ranked Tennessee.

While daunting, this would normally represent a bleak stretch for an LSU basketball team, but this year could be different. If the Tigers put their best foot forward, they’ll certainly have the opportunity to rattle off some wins and place themselves in a great position heading into the SEC Tournament.

Perhaps, more importantly, they’ll be able to learn how well their team stacks up against the nation’s best after the Kentucky and Tennessee games.

LSU won’t be expected to win either, and it may not. While that reality stings, the Tigers could choose to embrace the challenge that comes with learning from defeat and use what they gain in the NCAA tournament.

However, I feel like it’s only fair for me to point out that, while I believe losing gives us an opportunity to confront our shortcomings, I agree more with LSU coach Will Wade’s approach to defeat.

When asked if the lessons learned from defeat are worth it, Wade’s response of, “Nah, I prefer winning,” is a good way to sum up human nature’s attitude toward falling short.

When given the choice, we would all choose winning before we choose losing any day of the week.

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