Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: The Arkansas Razorbacks came into Baton Rouge on Saturday afternoon and handed the 12th ranked LSU Tigers a disappointing 65-58 loss. LSU struggled offensively all day, especially during the final nine minutes of the contest where they would go six and a half straight minutes without a score, allowing a scrappy Arkansas team to overcome an eight point deficit to steal the win.
Eric Gaines spoke about the offensive loss of rhythm… “I take the blame on that. As a point guard I have to get my team set up and bring the ball up the court faster. I feel like I did not do that.” He then touched on Arkansas’ physicality… “I am not going to say that was the toughest defensive team we have played this year. I would say they are more physical though. They came out and were ready to play. We just have to take another step. We cannot go back but we just need to take another step onto the next game."
"We had some different lineups out there. We got great players and we expect those guys to make plays," Will Wade said. "We've got to execute better. They picked Gaines up full court which made it tougher on us to get into our offense. They did a nice job. Look, Arkansas made a ton of plays down the stretch. We turned the ball over too much. We got out-rebounded. We missed some free throws. That’s gonna get you just about every time. We just weren’t as clean as we needed to be coming down the stretch.".... Wade would add. "I probably should have used some of my timeouts to get Days back in when they cut the lead to one, 56-55. I should have used a timeout there. I’ll go back and look at all that. I should have helped our guys out a little bit more. But we just didn’t make plays we needed to down the stretch. We’ll get back after it and turn the page for a tough week on the road next week.”
LSU controlled the opening tip and took the early lead on a basket in the paint by Efton Reid. 2-0 Tigers. Leading 6-2 at the at the 17:48 mark, the Tigers would out score the Hogs 10-7 over the next five minutes to take a 16-9 advantage as LSU's defensive pressure forced Arkansas into five early turnovers.
But the Razorbacks settled down quickly and turned up their intensity, out hustling LSU, storming back to tie the game at 18-18 with 9:00 left in the first half.
Three minutes later, Au'diese Toney finished a fast break with a monster dunk to give the Hogs their first lead of the contest, 24-23 with 6:26 to go.
LSU continued to sputter offensively, but managed to even things up at 28-28 at the 2:36 mark, before outscoring Arkansas 5-2 to end a very sloppy first half of play, taking a 33-31 lead into the locker room at the half.
Alex Fudge led the Tigers at the half with 9 points, while Eric Gaines and Tari Eason both finished with 7 points each. Justice Williams and Efton Reid both contributed 4 points each, but the big key stat of the first half was Darius Days being held scoreless by the Hogs.
Both teams began the second half shooting the ball well, as the Tigers and Hogs each drained a couple of big three pointers to keep the game close with LSU clinging to a 41-39 lead with 16:55 left on the clock.
At the 13:16 mark with the game knotted up at 45-45, the Tigers would take advantage of a couple of Arkansas missed shots, scoring six straight to take a 50-45 lead. However, Arkansas refused to go away, scoring three straight to cut the lead to two, 50-48 with 10:57 left in the game.
The Tigers responded with a 6-0 run to take a 56-48 advantage, but would then go ice cold, missing several opportunities
to increase their lead.
Arkansas finally took advantage of LSU's lifeless offense, going on a 10-0 run to regain the lead, 58-56 with 3:33 left in the game.
Alex Fudge would score LSU's first basket in over six minutes with a thunderous dunk to tie things up at 58-58 with only 2:16 left on the clock.
Jaylen Williams hit a wide open three pointer from the top of the key, putting the Hogs up 61-58 at the 1:12 mark, before increasing their lead to five with 22 seconds left when Stanley Umude would rebound a missed free throw attempt and bank the ball in for the score. The Hogs would add two more free throws to clinch the 65-58 victory.
The Tigers had one of their worst offensive outings of the season on Saturday as they shot 21-55 from the floor for 38%, while also struggling from three point range, going 5-19 for 26%. A poor day at the free throw line also proved to be costly for the Bayou Bengals as they hit only 11-17 from the charity stripe for 65%. LSU committed 16 turnovers and were out-rebounded by the Hogs, 41-31.
Eric Gaines led the team in scoring with 14 points, while Alex Fudge and Tari Eason scored 13 points each. Efton Reid added 7 points on the day and Darius Days was held to only 3 points total.
With the loss, the Tigers are now 15-2 overall and 3-2 in the SEC..
LSU will be on the road next week, traveling to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, Jan. 19th to battle Alabama, then heading to Knoxville on Saturday, Jan. 22nd for a rematch with the Volunteers...
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes