The Book Closes on the Will Wade Era with a One & Done in the NCAA Tournament as the Tigers Fall to Iowa State, 59-54
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
MILWAUKEE, WI - The Tigers headed to Milwaukee to dance with Iowa State in the first round of March Madness on Friday night in the Fiserv Forum Arena.
It was an ugly game played poorly by both teams as the 11th seeded Cyclones would stun the #6 seed Bayou Bengals 59-54. The Tigers sputtered badly, especially over the first twenty minutes as they went to the locker room at the break with a season low 19 points in the first half but fortunately only down by five, 24-19.
Late in the game with Iowa State up 51-50, Tyrese Hunter would hit a huge three pointer to extend the Cyclones lead to four, 54-50 with 1:44 to play.
The Tigers had no quit in them as they would pull to within two, 56-54 with :46 seconds remaining, but the Cyclones stayed hot from behind the three point arc as once again, Tyrese Hunter drained another three pointer with :16 seconds left on the clock to advance ISU to the second round of the Midwest Regional with the upset win.
The contest began with high intensity but low scoring as both teams found points tough to come by over the first six minutes of the game.
At the 13:49 mark, the score was tied at 9-9 before Iowa State would start to take control going on a 12-3 run over the next seven minutes to build a 21-12 lead with 7:22 left in the first half.
The LSU offense sputtered with sloppy play committing eight early turnovers to help the Cyclones take charge of the contest. But with the Tigers trailing 24-12, LSU finally responded with five straight to pull to within 24-17 with 2:03 left on the clock.
Darius Days would sink two free throws with 1.7 seconds left to cut the Iowa State lead down to 24-19 to end the first half.
Days led the team at the half with 6 points. Brandon Murray added 5 points. Mwani Wilkinson scored 4 points while Xavier
Pinson and Tari Eason both finished with 2 points each in the first half.
LSU shot 7-27 from the floor for only 25% and hit only 2-12 from three point land for 16%. The Tigers sank 3-5 free throws for 60%. Ten first half turnovers hurt badly while the Tigers held a slim edge in rebounding, 16-15.
The second half began with LSU missing their first shot and Iowa State answering with a three pointer to extend their lead to 27-19 before Darius Days scored five straight to pull the Tigers to within 27-24 at the 18:22 mark.
After LSU cut the lead to 27-26, Kevin Nickelberry was whistled with a technical foul for sending six players out on the court during play with 17:26 left on the clock. Izaiah Brockington sank one of two free throws to put the Cyclones up by two, 28-26.
Over the next three minutes, LSU would outscore Iowa State 5-3 to tie the game at 31-31 with 14:54 left in the contest. The Cyclones answered with a run of their own outscoring LSU, 10-4 over the next four minutes taking a 41-35 lead with 11:20 on the clock.
Iowa State increased their lead to ten, 47-37 on a Tyrese Hunter three pointer, but Brandon Murray would race down the court with the ball, driving to the basket, laying it in and drawing a foul. Murray missed the free throw as the ISU led 47-39 at the 7:41 mark.
Despite the sloppy play LSU continued to scratch and claw, outscoring the Cyclones 6-3 over the next three minutes cutting the lead to five, 50-45 with 3:29 left in the game.
The Cyclones won the game from behind the three point arc as they sank 12-37 on the night while LSU could only hit 4-19. Both squads had a horrible night from the floor as LSU finished the game shooting 17-46 for 37% as the Cyclones only hit 20-56 for 35%. LSU also left seven points at the free throw line that could have made the difference as they would sink 16-23 for 69%. The Tigers also shot themselves in the foot with 19 total turnovers.
Tari Eason led the Tigers with 18 points while Darius Days, playing his final game in a LSU uniform, finished with a double-double scoring 14 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. Brandon Murray and Mwani Wilkinson both finished with 8 points each. Efton Reid added 4 points and Xavier Pinson only managed 2 points on the night.
With the disappointing loss the Tigers finish the 2021-22 season with a 22-12 record as the Will Wade era comes to an end and the coaching search will now begin for athletic director Scott Woodward.