LSU fell to 5-3 in conference play after at disappointing loss at Mississippi State. The first half was sloppy. The team seemed to improve at the beginning of the second half, but a late second half run put The Bulldogs ahead. Mississippi State hit 13 of their last 14 free throw attempts to steal a victory. Fred Thomas scored 18 points for The Bulldogs, and was an impressive 7-for-7 from the line.
The Tigers did not look like the team they are capable of being. The team only managed .29% shooting in the first half, but somehow trailed just 30-27. There were opportunities for The Tigers to win in the second half, but again they struggled to make free throws. With 10 minutes left in the game it was tied at 47, but The Tigers took the lead with 5 minutes remaining. Then Mississippi State went on a 6-0 run, took the lead, and did not give it up. Roquez Johnson gave The Bulldogs the lift they needed late in the second half.
Jordan Mickey led the team with 25 points, and a career-high 20 rebounds. It was not enough, although the rebounds did allow The Tigers to keep up with Mississippi State in the first half. Fred Thomas was the key for The Bulldogs. He played well down the stretch and helped finish the game, something State has struggled to do all season.
The Bulldogs head coach Rick Ray has nothing but praise for The Tigers. He said there is "no question" to him the LSU is a tournament team. He also called the team the second best in the SEC. Perhaps if the team could finish games, their fan base would agree. Ray also had great things to say about Jordan Mickey, and praised his shooting ability.
If The Tigers hope to get a NCAA tournament bid they need to avoid games like Saturday's. In three different conference games this season The Tigers have held leads late in the second half. The team fell to Mizzou, Texas A&M, and now Mississippi State. There is no excuse for those losses. In fact, talent wise The Tigers may actually be the second best team in the league, but their in game play and coaching has led to unnecessary losses. Maybe Coach Jones can pull off some magic against Kentucky February 10th.
The Tigers next game is Thursday Feb. 5 against Auburn. The game will air from the PMAC at 6 PM CST on ESPN2.