FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas, a game ahead of the ignominious bottom three of the Southeastern Conference, entered Tuesday night’s game against LSU, the league’s second-place team, as a two-point favorite.

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas, a game ahead of the ignominious bottom three of the Southeastern Conference, entered Tuesday night’s game against LSU, the league’s second-place team, as a two-point favorite.


The spread did not appear to make sense at first blush. It was the same Arkansas team that had lost to Auburn and Mississippi State - two of those bottom four - in the last two weeks. Then the game tipped and it took all of about five real-time minutes to remember LSU basketball under coach Johnny Jones. If Arkansas was up-and-down this season, LSU was a roller coaster.


The Tigers appeared to be plan-less on offense. At times they’d throw it into their best player, and likely No. 1 overall pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, Ben Simmons on several consecutive possessions. And times they’d ignore him on four straight trips. Even Arkansas could take advantage of that, beating the visiting Tigers 85-65 and dealing a serious blow to LSU’s NCAA Tournament hopes in the process.


"For some reason, this time of the year, sometimes your body is so in-tuned to the season or what time of the season it is," Anderson said. "Late February and most of our teams play some of their better basketball. Hopefully this is a sign of our guys really getting ready to take that next level in play."


Instead of languishing in the belly of the league, perhaps nearing a possible play-in-game destination for the SEC Tournament next month, Arkansas (14-14, 7-8 SEC) suddenly, in the wackiness that has become SEC basketball, stands in the middle of the table. With three games left, two road and one home, Arkansas could still ultimately finish in the upper parts of the conference, even after all the mess of the 2015-16 season.


Complainers of the Arkansas style were mostly silent Tuesday. In a game of this-or-that, not many in Arkansas would take LSU coach Johnny Jones over Arkansas’ Mike Anderson. LSU (16-12, 9-6) , even with its shiny standing in the SEC, too often looked like it belonged down with the other Tigers - Missouri and Auburn - in that bottom three. There was little rhythm and less fight.


Jones paused for a good couple seconds when asked whether the spectre of no NCAA Tournament was beginning to weigh on his team.


"I’m not sure. I just know we’re not playing at the level and as well and executing at the level we need to to execute against good basketball teams right now," he said.


His team buzzed in the immediate few minutes after halftime, when they trailed by two, until consecutive 3-pointers from Jabril Durham and Anthlon Bell built the Arkansas lead to seven, 42-35, and Jones signaled for a timeout try to get them to relax. When LSU trimmed the lead to four, Bell and Dusty Hannahs responded to lift it back to eight. After another timeout, this one for advertisements, Hannahs made another 3-pointer and Arkansas had its largest lead of the night, 11, with less than 15 minutes left.


Jones tried to cool it. His team simply didn’t respond. The lead swelled to 17 with about six minutes left. It grew to 20 when Moses Kingsley finished an alley-oop with two-and-a-half minutes left. A crowd of 9,522 was already on its feet and when Simmons was whistled for a technical foul it gave its resounding approval. LSU had almost given up, finishing 2 of its final 12 from the floor.


Anderson, in his fifth season at Arkansas, collected his 100th win at the school and 300th win his career, including previous stops at Alabama-Birmingham and Missouri.


Simmons was frustrated with his whole night, even if he did finish with 23 points and 12 rebounds. He was stellar early, handling his defender, Keaton Miles, with ease in the first half en route to 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting. Simmons’ aggression sent Miles to the bench early in the second half when he picked up his fourth foul. With Kingsley lacking the foot-speed to guard the 6-foot-10 freshman, Anderson had to go to Trey Thompson off the bench. Thompson responded. He scored a career-high 13 points and did it going perfect from the field (6 of 6). He also added six rebounds.


Arkansas reserves outscored LSU’s 32-0. It finished with five players in double figures, led by Kingsley’s 21 points. He had 17 in the second half when Arkansas shot 63 percent. The Razorbacks shot 54 percent in the game to LSU’s 35 (30 in the second half).


Arkansas was up two points at the break but Kingsley’s four points and relative lack of aggression left his coach wanting more. Anderson laid into him verbally in the locker room.


"It wasn’t nice at all," Anderson said. "I started the halftime talk right at Moses. And he responded. My voice carries. Trust me, it does. You may not think it carries here, but it does in that locker room."


Simmons and Antonio Blakeney combined for 55 of LSU’s 65 points. The Tigers had only five players score. LSU was without three players of its rotation, including second-leading scorer Keith Hornsby who missed with a possible hernia.


The Razorbacks travel for their next two games at Tennessee and Alabama before finishing the regular-season March 5 in Fayetteville against South Carolina.


Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericwbolin


Is This Something You Might Be Interested In?: Anderson on his 300th and 100th wins - "I never thought I’d get to coach. I finished school, I sold office supplies a little while, I was a substitute teacher. … To sit here and talk about wins and all that, to me, I don’t worry about the wins. It’s about he lives I’ve touched. Those people that have been a part of our program. Whether it be at UAB, Missouri, and certainly the guys that have played for me here, I owe it all to them. … I’m just being hte guy kind of steering the ship a little bit for the most part. Those guys do all the work. There are more games out there to be won. We’re looking forward, like I said, I had no idea that I’d be coaching. I guess I must doing something right."