Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: LSU returned home looking to bounce back after losing two straight conference road games. Mission accomplished as the Tigers roared their way to a 75-55 blowout victory over the Missouri Tigers.
After leading by six at halftime, 30-24, LSU exploded to start the second half going on a 17-2 run over the first five minutes to build a 21 point lead. LSU won in dominating fashion as they never looked back turning up their intensity, smothering Mizzou with an aggressive defense and full court press.
Offensively nine Tigers scored with four scoring in double digits. Tari Eason led the team with 18 points. Brandon Murray scored 11 points. Xavier Pinson and Darius Days both added 10 points each and Shareef O'Neil contributed 9 points.
“Good win. One we obviously needed. I thought our defense was better. The start of the second half was much better than we have been. I thought we sustained our defensive intensity for longer periods than we have been." Will Wade said. "We need to win our home games and we won that one. It was a big win for us. Proud of our guys. I thought a lot of our guys played well. I thought we have pretty even distribution on things. The guys played hard and they played well for us. That was certainly a positive.”
The contest began with a slow half court offensive pace with Missouri sinking their shots and LSU misfiring on
their opportunities. Mizzou took advantage taking an early 8-3 lead before LSU would run off four in a row to pull to within 8-7 with 15:09 on the clock.
After two Tari Eason free throws that tighten the score at 10-9, both teams went into a two minute scoring slump before
Xavier Pinson scored on a reverse layup to give LSU their first lead, 11-10 at the 12:24 mark.
The Tigers turned it up a notch going on a 11-2 run to take a 20-12 lead with 8:50 left in the first half, before Javon
Pickett scored four straight for Mizzou to cut into the LSU lead, 20-16.
At the five minute mark LSU built their lead to ten, 26-16 after going on a six point run, four of those scored by Shareef O'Neil as his dad, Shaq O'Neil sat in attendance watching.
With LSU up 26-20, the Tigers would extend their lead to 30-20 with 2:04 left, but Missouri would score the final two baskets of the half as LSU went into the halftime break with a 30-24 lead.
Tari Eason led the Tigers at the half with 9 points while Shareef O'Neil and Xavier Pinson each finished with 6 points each. Efton Reid added 4 points, Mwani Wilkinson scored 3 points and Brandon Murray added two.
Even though LSU failed to score over the last 2:04 of the half while making only one of their final seven shots they still finished shooting 50% from the floor, 11-22. Eight turnovers hurt the Tigers in the first half while Mizzou won the rebound battle, 18-13.
LSU started the second half with all guns firing, scoring nine straight points in the first three minutes to take a
39-24 advantage as Mizzou struggled to handle the Tigers defensive pressure.
The Tigers continued to apply suffocating defense forcing Mizzou into several turnovers and shot clock violations as
LSU extended their second half run to 15-2, as they now led 45-26 at the 15:25 mark.
Over the next four minutes, LSU outscored Missouri, 7-6 as they would lead by 20 points, 52-32 with 11:35 left in the contest.
At the 2:00 minute mark both teams had played even over the last nine minutes as LSU held a 69-49 lead as the Tiger reserves finished off the game.
Eric Gaines hit a three pointer at the buzzer to make the final score, 75-55 LSU.
The Tigers shot the ball well finishing 25-49 from the floor for 51% and hit 6-17 from behind the three point arc. They also had a much better night at the free throw line sinking 19-23 for 83%. LSU's suffocating defense forced Missouri into 19 total turnovers that was turned into 25 points. It was an impressive team victory that LSU badly needed.
With the win the Tigers are now 20-9 overall and 8-8 in SEC play.
Next up LSU will travel to Fayetteville to take on 18th ranked Arkansas. The Razorbacks (23-6) have won four straight including a 75-73 win over #6 Kentucky on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 8:00pm CT and will be televised on ESPN2.
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes