A person familiar with the situation says LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones is out after five seasons at the school.
The person spoke to The Associate Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because LSU has not announced Jones’ firing.
LSU labored through a school-record 15-game losing streak this season and finished with a 10-21 record following a 79-52 loss to Mississippi State in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville on Wednesday night.
This was the first losing season for Jones, who coached LSU to one NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015. However, Jones’ coaching has been under increasing scrutiny since last season, when LSU missed the NCAA Tournament despite the presence of eventual first-overall NBA draft choice Ben Simmons on the roster.
After the game, Jones said he hadn’t been told of the decision.
“Like you, (I) heard about it and read it, seen it on TV and told these guys that it wasn’t about me,” Jones said. “It’s actually about them and we’ll prepare and do the things we’ve been doing so they could have a great experience and unfortunately came up short tonight. That’s about the gist of it. I’m sure I’ll look forward to hopefully visiting with someone in the near future.”
Jones is practically an LSU lifer. The Louisiana native has spent a total of 22 years with the Tigers as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
Jones played in 121 games for LSU from 1980 to 1984 under then-coach Dale Brown, going to the Final Four in 1981. Jones then spent 13 years on Brown’s coaching staff from 1984 to 97 – a period which encompassed Shaquille O’Neal’s three years as a player with the Tigers.
Jones later held assistant coaching posts at Memphis and Alabama before getting his first permanent head coaching job at North Texas, where he remained for 12 seasons, leaving only when LSU offered Jones what he routinely referred to as his “dream job” in 2012.
While Jones never came close to turning the Tigers into an SEC powerhouse, the program appeared to be moving in a positive direction until a swoon late last season caused LSU to slip out of contention for an NCAA Tournament berth despite having Simmons on the squad. The Tigers finished the 2015-16 season with 19 wins after losing five of their last eight regular season games and falling in the second round of the SEC Tournament. The downturn coincided with an injury to senior guard Keith Hornsby, who was among LSU’s leading scorers.
LSU won 19 games in Jones’ first season, 20 in his second and 22 in his third, when the Tigers made the NCAA tournament before the backsliding began at the end of his fourth season.
After losing several top players to graduation and NBA draft after last spring, Jones hoped his team could remain competitive in the SEC this season with a scrappy style of play. But things only worsened for LSU when starting forward Craig Victor was dismissed from the team early this season, virtually dooming LSU to struggle throughout its SEC slate. The Tigers went 2-16 in conference play during the regular season.
Coming into the SEC tournament, LSU had lost 15 games by 10 or more points and was allowing a league-worst 83.1 points a game.
AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.