Despite pushing out to a strong start in the game's opening minutes, LSU was unable to hold on to an early lead and ended up losing to Ole Miss in a game where they trailed by double digits for most of the second half.
Senior Day started off well for an LSU team that has often seen early deficits. The Tigers have generally been slow starters this season and needed double digit comebacks to defeat Mississippi State and Alabama. However, on Saturday, LSU rushed out to a 21-13 lead in the game's first nine minutes.
Anthony Hickey, Andre Stringer, and Malik Morgan all made three pointers, while Johnny O'Bryant III and senior Andrew Del Piero scored inside. However, after the game's second official timeout, Ole Miss came roaring back. In the next seven minutes, they went on a 22-5 run, building their own double digit lead. Senior power forward Murphy Holloway led the team in the extended run, scoring 8 points and grabbing some clutch offensive rebounds. At the end of the half, Ole Miss had reversed the early deficit and were up 43-30.
In the second half, LSU prevented the Rebels from going on an extended run, but they also failed to cut into the lead. Ole Miss generally led by 10 to 15 points throughout the half. And when the Tigers finally started to hit some key shots, Marshall Henderson, the Rebel's controversial shooting guard, responded. Henderson made two of his four three pointers immediately after LSU scored. He also hit all six of his free throws in the game's final two minutes, when LSU resorted to quick fouls.
Henderson, an 87-percent foul shooter, understandably dominated the ball in those possessions. He also had one of his best all-around games of the season, scoring 22 points, dishing out 5 assists, and pressuring the LSU guards for 5 steals.
It was a bittersweet end to the regular season for Tiger seniors Charles Carmouche and Andrew Del Piero. Both showed significant improvement throughout the season. After two years of seeing little playing time under Trent Johnson, Del Piero became a valuable rotation player for an undersized team. He finished his final home game with 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 25 minutes.
Meanwhile Charles Carmouche, who transferred to LSU this year after stops at UNO and Memphis, became the team's second most reliable player in the past 3 weeks, routinely scoring 20 or more points while shooting at a high percentage. However, on Saturday he only scored 8 points, although he added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals.
Eddie Ludwig, who hasn't played since January 5, and walk-on Mychael Williams were the team's other seniors. Williams came in for the game's final 15 seconds, as the home crowd cheered one last time for Del Piero and Carmouche.
LSU finishes the regular season with an 18-11 record, including a 9-9 mark in conference play. On Thursday afternoon, at 11 a.m. CST, the Tigers will play Georgia in the SEC Tournament in Nashville. The winner will then play top-seeded Florida at the same time on Friday.