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POSTGAME: LSU 88, Texas Southern 80

Tigers combat turnovers with good shooting, it works out well.

NCAA Basketball: Houston at Louisiana State
When provoked, Duop Reath can drop 20 points
Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

LSU improves to a 7-2 record after defeating the now 4-7 Texas Southern Tigers, but you wouldn’t think that’d be the case if you didn’t watch the last two minutes. LSU struggled with turnovers again, this time Duop Reath being the largest offender with 5. “The players and coaches told me to keep focused, don’t worry about the first half.” He more than made up for his sloppy play, though, leading the Tigers with 21 points, including a 3 pointer. Reath laughed at the notion of him becoming a 3 point shooter. “I’ll just take what the defense gives me. If I’m open, I’m gonna knock it down.”

Antonio Blakeney, unsurprisingly, took charge of LSU’s offense early, being responsible for the first eight points of the game. He would finish with 16 points and two assists. Jalyn Patterson and Kieran Hayward combined to shoot 4-4 from 3pt and 20 points, with Patterson contributing 4 assists and 3 steals as well. Hayward went into tonight with 6 points total this season, and finished tonight with an 8 point performance. “I’m just really trying to focus on my defense to get me started...it really helps on my offensive flow.”

The most important takeaway from this game, and this may shock you, was LSU’s free throw shooting, especially in the last minute when preserving the lead. 14-17 from the stripe is good enough for 82.4%, and that’s the kind of performance from the line that wins ballgames. “I think we’ve got a good shooting team, and it was excellent to see them step up and knock those free throws down late. I thought it was the difference in the ballgame,” noted Coach Jones. If you can’t play well, you gotta shoot well. While 14 turnovers is usually a key ingredient in a loss, shooting 52.4% from the field and over 80% at the FT line will cancel that sloppiness out.

That being said, this sloppy play just isn’t sustainable, especially when it’s coming against lesser, undersized teams. LSU has it's final out of conference home game against Charleston Monday night, followed by a road game against a very tough Wake Forest next Thursday. You can shoot as well as you want against Wake Forest, but you’re not going to beat them with this level of sloppy play. Coach Jones agreed, “we certainly want to improve and I’m not sure we got much done on that tonight, we’ve got to be more prepared in our next game against Charleston coming up.” The Tigers need to dig down and find that rhythm and confidence they had in their win against Houston if they want to keep their loss column at 2 through next week.

LSU tips off against the Charleston Cougars Monday night (12/19) at 7pm, televised on SECN+. Blakeney remembered last year’s loss to Charleston, “they got us bad last year, but it’s a new team, they got a new team, hopefully we get the win.” This will be LSU’s last game in the PMAC until 12/29, so go check them out before you head out for the holidays!