Da Boot Sports
By: Jason Watson Jr.
BATON ROUGE, LA- The Men’s Tiger basketball team hosted the 22nd-ranked Ole Miss Rebels Wednesday evening, earning a statement victory in the Matt McMahon era. LSU defeated Mississippi 89-80 in a gritty effort, picking up the Tigers’ second ranked-victory in as many years.
Ole Miss won the tip-off and was quickly forced into three turnovers by the Tigers’ defensive prowess. The negative for LSU? They could not convert any points from it and gave up four turnovers of their own.
The Rebels scored the first basket of the game, a three-pointer from guard Jaylen Murray. LSU responded with a Mike Williams III trey.
Murray got his offensive game going early with nine quick points. In the opening four minutes, he knocked down two triples, got an easy layup off a Rebel steal, and split a pair from the charity stripe.
Will Baker nailed a high-arcing three-pointer to halt the Rebel 6-0 scoring run. Baker attacked the glass early on both ends of the floor and earned a trip to the free-throw line as a reward, where he’d shoot 1-2.
Jalen Reed soared for a rebound and finished with the putback, making the score 11-9 Rebels.
Both squads used aggressive rebounding on the offensive end, leading to easy baskets. Mississippi led 21-17 midway through the opening half.
Tyrell Ward earned an LSU fastbreak bucket off a steal from Jordan Wright. Ward slammed home an emphatic two-handed dunk and followed that up with a sweet dish to Jalen Reed for the three, tying the ballgame at 24 apiece after a 7-0 run from the Tigers.
Williams stole a cross-court pass and drove the length of the court, where he got met at the rim and went on to make one of two free throws for the Tigers.
Allen Flanigan of Ole Miss got a fiery dunk of his own with a one-handed jam off a fast break opportunity.
During an official timeout, the PMAC honored the 2024 edition of the LSU Tiger Girls for their national championship routine in the hip-hop division at UDA Nationals. LSU jazz dance also brought home the bronze medal, a huge accomplishment for those ladies.
Jordan Wright brought the LSU crowd back to life with a one-handed slam to give the Tigers their first lead in the contest.
Jalen Cook, LSU’s offensive powerhouse who had been a no-factor through the game, earned his first points of the night on a deep three-pointer with 1:04 to go in the half.
That proved all she wrote for the first twenty minutes as LSU led Ole Miss 35-33,
headed to the locker room.
LSU got outshot by the Rebels up to this point, 41% to 42% from the field and 60% to 75% from the free throw line.
LSU began the second half with possession and extended their lead to five with a triple from Jordan Wright, the Tigers’ leading scorer. Wright went to work immediately, converting a tough layup underneath the basket and making his free throw to finish the three-point play.
The Tigers got into foul trouble early as they picked up all six of their allowable team fouls just seven minutes into the second half. Mike Williams was responsible for three of those.
LSU’s dominant defensive effort continued to be displayed as they held Ole Miss to a shooting stretch of just 1-8 FGA. LSU utilized this time to jump out to an 11-point advantage.
Tyrell Ward drilled two big-time buckets from beyond the arc, putting the Tigers up 57-46 with 11:41 to go in the game. McMahon had the #22 Rebels against the ropes.
Ward’s electric shooting continued as he would bury a third triple in the second half.
Hunter Dean was also huge off of the bench for LSU, making big plays in doing the small things like rebounding and finishing inside the paint correctly.
LSU extended their lead to 15 as an acrobatic layup from Wright made the score 66-51. The Rebels secured two back-to-back baskets to draw within 11 with 6:54 remaining.
Lackadaisical play on the offensive end and questionable whistles against LSU allowed Ole Miss to go on a 12-2 run, making it a 6-point game at 66-60.
Jalen Cook came through in the clutch and responded with two buckets, including a one and-one, not backing down even on an off-shooting night.
Effort and staying with the basketball allowed Jordan Wright to collect his rebound and put back a missed shot to put LSU back up by 11 with under four minutes to play.
The Tigers improved their free throw shooting and got to ice the game away once they got into the bonus. The teams exchanged free throws over the last minutes of game time before Mike Williams delivered a massive three-pointer in the corner to put the Tigers up by eight with 64 seconds remaining.
Ole Miss gave the Tigers all they could handle, and they absorbed it all en route to the win.
With the victory, the Tigers are now 11-6 overall and 3-1 in SEC play.
LSU will host Texas A&M on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at 3:00 pm CST.
“Really fired up for our team. Proud of their effort and toughness that they showed on the court tonight." Matt McMahon said. "A great atmosphere with well over 1,000 students here tonight. Great energy in the endzone and from the fans that were here. Ole Miss has a terrific team. They are 15-1 for a reason. They have great talent and play extremely hard. I thought in the second half, minus the free-throw line, our defense was terrific. We had 32% from the floor. We were really concerned with Ole Miss being one of the top three-point shooting teams in the country, over 40%, which you do not see too often. We held them to six of 24, which is 25% there. I thought our offensive execution in the second half, minus a few possessions at the end of the game, was just terrific. We were five-of-eight from the three in the second half and 55% from the floor. The guys did a great job at making free throws.”
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
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