Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: LSU found themselves down 37-32 at halftime to a Texas State team that gave them all they could handle and more for the first 29 minutes of Friday night's contest. But the Tigers would eventually put it all together while turning up their defensive pressure in the second half. Pressure that led to several fast break scoring opportunities, helping LSU pull away during the final 11 minutes for a 84-59 victory. Several Tigers contributed in the second half as LSU would outscore the Bobcats 52-22 after the break.
Darius Days and Tari Eason both led the team with 17 points each. Both freshmen Alex Fudge and Brandon Murray scored 14 points each, with Fudge scoring big in the first half, while Murray was having his turn to shine in the final 20 minutes. Eric Gaines played well and finished with 9 points, while Xavier Pinson added 8 in the ball game.
The Tigers started out the contest cold and out of sync as they found themselves in a fast break contest with Texas State. The early difference was LSU's poor outside shooting while the Bobcats were busy hitting high percentage baskets. At the 16:44 mark, the Tigers led 8-4 before Texas State would go on a 12-2 run over the next four minutes to take a 16-10 lead. The pace of play would slow some and LSU would slowly chip away at the Bobcats' lead, eventually pulling even at 16-16 with 10:00 to go in the first half. With the score later knotted up at 18-18, Mason Harrell would hit a three point jumper that banked in off the glass as the shot clock expired, giving TSU a 21-18 lead. But it would be a brief lead as Darius Days would answer ten seconds later, hitting a three from the top of the key to tie things back up, 21-21 with 7:39 to go. The well coached Bobcats would continue to play fast with great ball movement. They were also doing a great job of setting up their shots and making them as they began to heat up from the outside hitting three straight shots from behind the arc to go on a 9-4 run, taking a 30-25 lead with 3:59 left in the half. LSU continued to struggle against a tough, high energy Texas State defense, as both teams battled even over the last three minutes of the half, with the Bobcats holding a 37-32 lead at halftime.
Freshman Alex Fudge finished the first half leading the team with 12 points.. Darius Days added 8 in the first 20 minutes, while Xavier Pinson would score 6.
Both teams played pretty even in the first half with the difference coming from behind the three point arc, as Texas State went 6-12 for 50%, while LSU only hit 3-9 for 33%. As poorly as the Tigers performed offensively in the first half, they would only find themselves trailing by five at the break.
LSU started the second half with more energy as they would battle to pull the game even at 39-39 at the 17:35 mark. TSU continued to keep pace with the Tigers as five minutes later they would trail LSU by two, 49-47. The Tigers finally began to make plays on both ends of the court as they would begin to heat up offensively, paced by Brandon Murray's 11 second half points to go on a 14-4 run over the next five minutes of play building a 63-51 lead at the 7:58 mark. LSU would increase their lead to 17, outscoring the Bobcats 7-2, finishing the run off with a Alex Fudge monster jam after a steal and assist by Eric Gaines right before the officials timeout with 6:01 left on the clock. The Bayou Bengals would increase their lead to 23 with a Brandon Murray three pointer three minutes later, 78-55 Tigers. After LSU took a firm control of the contest, the Bobcats shifted into panic mode and began rushing and missing their outside shots. The Tigers would continue to pull away, taking a 82-57 lead with only 1:01 left in the game.
*Coach Wade's post game comments...
“Obviously, a great win. In the second half we were tremendous. I thought we weren’t aggressive enough in the first half and turned it up in the second half. We have great athletes, when you press and play hard for 40 minutes, it kind of wears teams down. I thought the pressure in the second half it was much better. Give Alex Fudge a ton of credit, he saved us in the first half. If he doesn’t cut and make that three and shoot well. He made a huge one-and-one to cut the deficit from seven to five when they were kind of running away from us a bit. I thought Fudge did a tremendous job. He showed flashes of his true potential and flashes of his production, he was great. (Darius) Days did what he did in the second half and Tari (Eason); we found a mismatch with him. We were playing smaller, when we fixed that mismatched Tari just went to work. And then Brandon Murray. We were able to run a counter off the mismatch play and get Murray going after we saw that free throw go in and then a shot goes in. Just a total team effort. It was a good win, they’re a good team. We have a better team coming on Monday. So, we have to turn it around quick and get ready to go Monday. Once again, we had 1600-plus students here tonight, which was great. I know on Friday night there are a bunch of formals and stuff going on, so I’m really pleased at the student turnout and overall crowd; the crowd helped us a lot in the second half. When we press and play with energy you kind of feed off the crowds. I was great to have a good crowd especially on a Friday night. It was a good team we beat, I’m proud of those guys.”
Next the Tigers (2-0) will host Liberty on Monday, Nov. 15 in the PMAC... Tipoff is set for 6:00pm and will be carried on ESPNU...