Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
FORT WORTH, TX: LSU traveled to Fort Worth, Texas to take on TCU in the BIG12/SEC Challenge on Saturday afternoon and fell to the Horned Frogs, 77-68. The disappointing loss drops the 19th ranked Tigers to 16-5 on the season.
After cutting the TCU lead to three, 65-62 with 5:20 remaining, the Horned Frogs began to take the game over late with aggressive play in the paint, building a nine point lead with only 1:24 left on the clock and would finish defending their home court, defeating LSU for their first win over a ranked SEC team since 1954.
LSU controlled the opening tip of the contest and took a quick 2-0 lead on a jumper by Darius Days just 15 seconds into the game.
Both teams started fast and furious, pushing the ball quickly up and down the court, answering each other while taking and hitting nice shots.
With the score evened up at 8-8 at the 16:12 mark, the Tigers would be the first team to slump slightly allowing TCU to go on a 5-0 run to take a 13-8 lead with 13:45 left on the clock.
The game's pace suddenly slowed down into a half court battle, as both team's would trade turnovers and a few missed shot opportunities, before the Tigers managed to score four in a row to cut the Horned Frogs lead to one, 13-12 with 11:37 left in the first half.
TCU finally scored after a three and a half minute drought to extend their lead to 15-12 before LSU would answer with five straight as Days banked in a second change layup followed by a Mwani Wilkinson three pointer, giving the Bayou Bengals a 17-15 advantage.
The game was shaping up as a back and forth battle, as the score stood at 17-17 at the 8:47 mark. At this point in the contest the Tigers and Frogs had played into four lead changes and five ties.
After an officials timeout, the game's pace once again picked up with both squads racing up and down the floor, trading baskets before TCU would go on a 7-0 run to grab a 30-24 lead with 3:22 left in the first half.
Mwani Wilkinson hit a huge three from the far corner to cut the Horned Frogs lead to 31-29, but the LSU offense would begin to sputter allowing TCU to go on another 7-0 run to finish the first half, as the Tigers found themselves trailing 38-29 at the half.
Days, Wilkinson and Eason would finish the first half with six points each. Efton Reid added 4 points, while Eric Gaines scored 3. Xavier Pinson returned for the Tigers, playing the final seven minutes of the half, but looked rusty only managing 2 points. Brandon Murray added a quiet 2 points.
TCU shot the ball very well in the first half hitting 52% of their shots from the floor while LSU finished going 10-35 for only 29%. The Horned Frogs also controlled the boards, outrebounding the Tigers, 26-16.
LSU started the second half looking to turn up their defensive pressure, hoping it would lead to key turnovers and fast break points, while looking for better offensive production with Xavier Pinson returning to limited action.
The Tigers however started slow and TCU took advantage building a 16 point lead, 50-34 over the first four minutes of the half, as Charles O'Bannon caught fire scoring 11 straight points for the Frogs, hitting three treys and a deuce.
LSU finally showed signs of life as Tari Eason led the Tigers on a 13-2 run, cutting the TCU lead to five, 52-47 with 11:58 left on the clock.
The Tigers continued to heat up from the floor as Brandon Murray would sink a three pointer from the top of the key to pull LSU to within 55-54 at the 9:05 mark.
After TCU extended their lead back to nine, the Tigers would go on a 6-2 spurt cutting the lead to five, 67-62 with
5:06 remaining in the contest before the Frogs would take control the rest of the way.
Tari Eason led LSU with a tough 16 points on the day. Darius Days finished with a double-double scoring 14 points
while grabbing 12 rebounds. Eric Gaines added 14 points and Brandon Murray contributed 10.
After starting fast, the Tigers cooled off offensively finishing 24-65 from the floor for only 37%. LSU also struggled from three point land, especially late in the game going 6-19 for 32%. TCU outplayed the Tigers in the paint, outrebounding them 40-34.
Xavier Pinson saw his first action since injuring his knee against Tennessee at home, but found himself playing on a limited minute count. He looked rusty, managing to score 2 points in the final seven minutes of the first half and never returned to the lineup in the second half.
LSU will return home on Tuesday, Feb. 1st, jumping back into SEC play as they host Ole Miss at 8:00pm. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.