Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: The 19th ranked LSU Tigers ended their three game losing streak on Wednesday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center beating Texas A&M 70-64 in front of 10,929 rabid LSU fans.
With only 58 second left and the game even at 64-64, Texas A&M's Marcus Williams would miss a three point attempt, followed by two missed put back opportunities by the Aggies before Brandon Murray grabbed the rebound with 36 seconds left. Eric Gaines drew the foul sending him to the free throw line with 18 seconds left, hitting both shots giving LSU a 66-64 lead. After rebounding another A&M miss, Brandon Murray headed to the charity stripe and drained both of his free throws, increasing LSU's lead to 68-64. After struggling from the free throw line all night, Eric Gaines finished off Texas A&M at the stripe with two more points, giving LSU the 70-64 victory. Hats off to the LSU fans in attendance as their energy helped surge the Tigers to a huge must win.
“Well, it was a great, great win. We found a way. Eric Gaines played his best game here. He was phenomenal, just tremendous." Will Wade said. "I am just proud of our guys. It wasn’t easy. It is never easy, but I am really proud of our guys. We made the free throws when it mattered. We did not make many of them during the game, but we made them when it mattered. I thought the crowd was great. The students were great. I am just very proud of our group. To play the last 12 minutes basically without Tari (Eason) and Shareef made some big plays for us. Brandon Murray, he is just a warrior.”
Brandon Murray led the Tigers with 21 points.
Eric Gaines played perhaps his best game as a Tiger scoring 16 points and helped saved the game by blocking Andre
Gordon's attempted game winning shot. “I saw him by himself and went for it even though I had four fouls. I had to make that attempt. And I did." said Gaines. "I got the block and sealed the game at the free-throw line.”
Tari Eason had a great game as he contributed 14 points and played the final nine minutes of the game battling leg cramps.
The final game stats were as close as the game. LSU shot 20-47 from the floor for 43%, while the Aggies shot 21-52
for 40%,... The Tigers finished 6-13 from three point range for 46%, while A&M finished 9-26 from behind the arc for 35%,... LSU shot 24-35 from the free throw line for 69%, compared to Texas A&M hitting 13-20 free throws for 65%,... Both teams turned the ball over 18 times and LSU won the rebound battle, 38-30...
The Aggies controlled the opening tip and the game early on as they would build a 7-4 lead at the 15:06 mark with LSU once again starting slowly offensively.
Andre Gordon added two three pointers over the next two minutes to extend the A&M lead to 13-7 before the Tigers would respond with a 6-0 run, four of those points courtesy of Shareef O'Neal, to tie the contest at 13-13 with 11:26 left in the first half.
Over the next two minutes, both teams would trade three pointers, keeping the game knotted up at 16-16, before
Tyrece Radford added a three point play after being fouled while scoring on a layup and then sinking his free throw. LSU answered quickly to tie the game at 19-19 with 8:20 left on the clock, as Brandon Murray played string music from three point land.
The Tigers and Aggies continued to go back and forth answering each other, keeping the game evened up as at the 7:11 mark we found the score tied at 23-23.
Three minutes later we would find ourselves all even at 27-27, before Eric Gaines' two free throws put LSU back up
29-27. However, Texas A&M's Quenton Jackson answered with a wide open three pointer from the corner, quickly giving the Aggies the lead back, 30-29, with 2:23 left in the half.
Over the final two minutes LSU turned up their defensive pressure helping them go on a 5-1 run to end the first half as the Tigers find themselves up 34-31 at the half.
Statistically, both teams played just about even over the first 20 minutes. LSU shot 40% from the floor going 10-25 while A&M finished going 9-23 for 39% from the floor. Both teams finished the first half shooting 38% from behind the three point arc with LSU hitting 11-18 while the Aggies went 8-11. A&M did a better job from the free throw line as they hit 8-11 for 73% while the Tigers struggled only making 11-19 for 58%.
Brandon Murray led the Tigers at the half with 10 points, while Eric Gaines and Tari Eason each finished with 8 points each. Shareef O'Neal added four points and both Alex Fudge and Efton Reid managed 2 points each.
The back and forth battle continued as the second half began. Tyrece Radford opened the half with a three pointer to tie the game at 34-34.
With the game knotted up at 37-37, LSU scored three straight to take a 40-37 lead at the 15:51 mark, before A&M finally answered two minutes later to pull within 40-39 as neither team could take control of the contest.
Tari Eason headed to the LSU locker room 40 seconds later apparently due to leg cramping. With Eason, Days and Pinson now out for the Tigers, the LSU offense slumped badly, allowing the Aggies to build a 43-40 advantage with 11:57 left in the game.
Thankfully Tari Eason returned to the floor and quickly scored four straight to help LSU regain the lead, 44-43, as the teams had played through ten lead changes and nine ties at this point in the contest.
Next it would be the Aggies turn to go on a mini run, scoring four in a row to grab a 48-44 lead with 9:22 left on the clock.
Two minutes later with A&M leading by five, 51-46, Shareef O'Neal hit a three pointer from the far corner to help his team pull to within two, 51-49.
LSU would fall behind again, 58-53 before scoring four straight, cutting the lead to one, 58-57 with 4:46 remaining in this wild and crazy SEC battle.
Texas A&M again ran off four in a row to extend their lead to five, 62-57 with 3:34 to go, as a battered and bruised LSU squad struggled to keep pace.
The Tigers scratched and clawed their way back, cutting the Aggies lead to 62-61 at the 2:53 mark.
A&M answered on a second chance basket with 1:45 left to go back up by three, 64-61.
Mwani Wilkinson then stepped up and hit a huge three pointer from the far corner to tie the game at 64-64 as the Assembly Center crowd roared their approval with only 58 second remaining.
With the win LSU is now 16-4 overall and 4-4 in SEC play...
Next up LSU will take a break from SEC play on Saturday at 11 a.m. when they travel to TCU in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Tigers will return home next Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 8:00p.m to host Ole Miss.