Eight games into the season and The Tigers have had their ups and downs. There was an exciting overtime victory over Texas Tech to start off play in the PMAC, but then a loss to a not so great Clemson team. Thursday night the team faced off against undefeated West Virginia in Morgantown, and expectations were definitely low. But through a game of highs and lows the Tigers persevered, with Josh Gray hitting a layup in the final seconds to clinch a huge 74-73 victory.
Ten minutes into the game and it looked like The Tigers were doing great, up 33-27. Then West Virginia cam roaring back. They went on a 9-1 run, and were leading by five at the half. As the second half got started it appeared things would get out of hand. The Mountaineers went up 52-38 and it looked like they had only let LSU stick around in the first half. Then it was The Tigers turn to come roaring back. They went on a 14-3, to cut West Virginia's lead to 2 with 11 minutes left in the game.
Keith Hornsby hit a three-pointer with 8:44 left to tie the game at 56. The Tigers were definitely looking like they could hang with Mountaineers, but there was still a lot of time left. With a minute left Hornsby hit another three-pointer to put The Tigers up 72-71, but Jarell Martin got called for his fifth foul, and The Mountaineers were up by one again. With less than 30 seconds left, LSU in bounded the ball, and Josh Gray drove the court and made a lay up. The defense forced a miss, and it was over.
It was by far the most exciting game of the season. The Tigers overcame some frustrating fouls to pull one out. Reserve guard Tim Quartermen scored 21 points to lead the way for the team. The Tigers also shot 8-15 from the three-point line, much improved from previous games. Despite the fouls, it looked LSU's most complete game of the season. The defense was able to hold at the most important times, and the offense is starting to execute to their potential.
It was The Tigers first victory on the road against a ranked team since Nov 26, 2005. Ironically, that victory came against then No. 13 West Virginia. It also looked like head coach Johnny Jone's most impressive victory. Last season The Tigers were able to stun No. 11 Kentucky in the PMAC, 87-82, but they ended the season at .500 in league play, and missed a post-season bid. Hopefully this years team will capitalize on their early successes, and learn from their defeats. Expectations around Baton Rouge are certainly higher than .500.
The Tigers play Sam Houston State next, Saturday December 13th, in the PMAC.