LSU AD: School has fired men's basketball coach Johnny Jones
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By BRYAN LAZARE
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) LSU director of athletics Joe Alleva has announced that basketball coach Johnny Jones has been fired after five seasons.
The Tigers completed their worst season in 50 years Wednesday with a 79-52 loss to Mississippi State in a first-round game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. LSU finished 10-21 overall, including a 2-16 league mark.
"I met with coach Jones earlier (Friday) and informed him that he was relieved of his duties," Alleva said. "This is the worst part of the job particularly when the coach is a friend and a great LSU person. But, it is all about championships and excellence and we were not going in that direction."
Jones won at least 19 games and never had a losing record in the SEC in his first four seasons. However, the results began to dip at the end of last season. The Tigers lost six of their final 10 games against SEC teams. Then, Jones decided not to have LSU participate in the NIT.
Jones had a young team this season - with Antonio Blakeney the lone returning starter after Craig Victor was dismissed from the squad at the beginning of SEC play. The Tigers' only victories came against Missouri in the second game of the league schedule and Tennessee in the second-to-last game.
"The last two years have been a disappointment," Alleva said. "At the end of last year, we were not going in the right direction. Then, we lost 19 of (our last) 21 games this year."
Alleva will immediately start a search to find the next LSU basketball coach. Since the Tigers reached the Final Four in 2006 under coach John Brady, they have made only two NCAA Tournament appearances. LSU went 1-1 under Trent Johnson in 2009 and lost to North Carolina State under Jones in 2015.
"We will have to take some time in our search," Alleva said. "Most of the coaches we are considering will be in postseason play. We will do our diligence and talk to agents. We want to be in the NCAA Tournament and the postseason on a regular basis."
Alleva is confident that the LSU job is an attractive one. Jones, a former Tigers player and assistant coach under Dale Brown, got the job after having a 190-146 record at North Texas. His North Texas teams had a 91-90 record in the Sun Belt Conference.
"We want a proven winner," Alleva said. "We want an experienced coach, someone who has won. We want a person will bring enthusiasm and passion to the program. The potential here is phenomenal. I am confident we will get a very good coach here."
Under Jones, LSU had a 90-72 record, including 42-48 in the SEC. The Tigers made a NIT appearance in 2014 prior to reaching the NCAA tournament one season later. Jones coached five NBA players - Johnny O'Bryant, Jarell Martin, Jordan Mickey, Ben Simmons and Tim Quarterman.
Alleva announced that Jones' staff members have also been fired - assistants were Robert Kirby, Brendan Suhr and Randy Livingston. Deputy director of athletics Eddie Nunez will be in charge of the basketball program until a new coach is hired.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org
Updated March 10, 2017