By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
BATON ROUGE, La: LSU would take their three game winning streak into Saturday night's contest with the South Carolina Gamecocks in the PMAC. After forty hard fought minutes they increased that winning streak to four with a 85-80 victory.
The 3-2 Gamecocks came to Baton Rouge not having played a game since January 6th due to a string of COVID issues. COVID issues that have caused South Carolina to either cancel or postpone eight of their contest. Many felt, including myself, that the rust would show and they would struggle against a red hot LSU squad. Boy, were we wrong. The Cocks looked refreshed and rested playing with great intensity giving the Tigers all they could handle in an exciting SEC matchup.
Below is our 'Da Boot Sports' Game Break Down...
The Gamecocks would score first as AJ Lawson would hit a three pointer a minute into the contest for a 3-0 lead. Both teams would struggle to score over the next two minutes until Trendon Watford would get a roll in basket off of a close jumper to finally get the Tigers on the board.
The Tigers would find themselves struggling to get started as sloppy play, three turnovers, poor shot selection, a weak defensive effort, and being outmatched on the boards would lead to a 19-8 Carolina lead with 12:11 to go in the half.
The Gamecocks would continue to show no signs of being rusty in their first action since January 6th as they continued to play with energy and intensity.
But the Tigers would finally find some spark on offense going on a 13-4 run to pull within two, 23-21 at the 8:00 mark.
South Carolina had shot well from the outside so far all night and they would continue to do so, as well as score off of more Tiger turnovers. A jumper made by Keyshawn Bryant would give the Cocks a 36-28 lead with 3:12 left to go.
The Tigers would fight back scoring five straight over the next 70 seconds to pull to within three, 36-33 at the two minute mark.
The final two minutes would be physically played by both teams, as we would go into the halftime break with South Carolina on top, 38-34.
Cam Thomas would lead the team in scoring at the half with 12 points, followed closely by Trendon Watford's 11 point effort, while Darius Days added 6. LSU would shoot below their season average not only from the floor going 12-30 for 40%, but also from behind the three point line, 1-8 for 13%, and from the free throw line, 9-15 for 60% in the first half. The Tigers find themselves very fortunate to only trail by four at the break considering how poorly they played in the opening 20 minutes.
Give the Gamecocks credit for a very well played first half as they took advantage of LSU mistakes, shot well from the outside, and played a suffocating man to man defense.
The Gamecocks would start the second half with the same intensity they played with throughout the first 20 minutes as they would out score LSU 7-2 over the first two minutes to build a 45-36 lead.
The Tigers would suddenly wake up and go on a 12-3 run to tie the game up at 48-48 with 16:01 left on the game clock.
Carolina would respond scoring seven straight as Keyshawn Bryant would hit a three and then score on a slam-dunk, with AJ Lawson scoring a basket on a fast break pulling ahead 55-48.
Down 57-50 with 13:54 left on the game clock, the Tigers with explode on a 8-0 run, six of those points coming from two Javonte Smart three pointers to take their first lead of the ball game, 58-57.
The Gamecocks came to play with their A-Game tonight as they would continue to take advantage of LSU missed shots and turnovers, out hustling the Tigers on a 15-7 run over the next seven minutes, building a 72-67 lead with 7:24 to go.
Over the next four minutes the Tigers would go on an electrifying 9-2 run to take the lead 76-74 with 3:30 left in the game, as Darius Days and Cam Thomas would each hit a three, followed by six straight points scored by Trendon Watford.
Jermaine Couisnard would hit two free throws to tie things up a few seconds later, before Watford would answer with two charity shots of his own at the other end of the court, 78-76 Tigers with 2:32 to go.
Cam Thomas would hit two free throws to increase the lead to 80-76.
Both teams would battle hard but struggle to score until Thomas would hit a huge jumper with 47 seconds on the clock, followed by another two points from the line by Thomas with 34 ticks remaining. 84-76 Tigers.
The Gamecocks would cut it to 84-80 with 13 seconds left, but LSU would hold on for their fourth straight victory, 85-80.
Cameron Thomas lead the Tigers with 25 points on the night. Trendon Watford had one of his best games of the season as he would contribute 23 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Javonte Smart had a great second half as he finished with 15 points and Darius Days finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Tigers shot 27-59 from the floor for 46%, ... Made 7-18 from three point range for 39%, ... and had another tough night at the free throw line shooting 24-32 for 75%.... The Tigers forced 15 turnovers while committing 13 on the night. Carolina out-rebounded LSU, 39-37... With the win LSU is now 10-2 overall and 5-1 in the SEC...
Up next for the Tigers is a huge matchup at home against Alabama, 11-3 overall and 6-0 in SEC play, on Tuesday, January 19th at 8pm for first place in the conference.
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
Photos Below By: LSU/SEC
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes