It wasn’t quite the performance they had against Houston a few weeks ago, but it was definitely the best the Tigers (8-2) have looked since then. I begrudgingly say that, because while LSU out-rebounded the Cougars 43-29, they turned the ball over 16 times to Charleston’s 9. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good win over a good team (and a much higher RPI, at that), but again, turning the ball over 16 times is a losing recipe for conference play.
This win marks LSU’s fourth straight, and brings their record in the PMAC up to a perfect 7-0. The Tigers shot a fantastic 50% from the floor, and went 14-18 at the free throw line, the second game in a row shooting over 75% at the stripe. While turnovers and generally hard-headed play on offense has been mind-numbing, these are significant improvements that deserve some credit. If LSU shoots its 63% FT, who knows how the last two contests play out.
Duop Reath tied his career high with 23 points, and it’s his second straight game scoring over 20 points. Craig Victor finished the night with a double double, scoring 18 and snagging 10 rebounds. He finished out really well on both sides of the ball, and shooting 8-10 at the free throw line. “At the end of the game, it’s just our maturity as a team. Knowing what we have to do, getting stops and making free throws.”
Brandon Sampson scored another 20 points, crediting patience and play development for his production. “It’s just taking time running the offense...I think everything just came to us instead of rushing everything.” That being said, when LSU went on a few 2+ minute scoring droughts in the second half, quickly missed 3 pt attempts were mostly to blame. Antonio Blakeney, the usual scoring leader, only finished with 7, but tied the team’s lead with 10 rebounds of his own.
While Charleston isn’t a very good scoring team, holding any team to only 65 points is always impressive. Craig Victor added on this, saying “we have great team chemistry, we’re talking more on defense. We’ve got great leaders on the team and focusing on talking on defense.” Defense certainly was an area of strength tonight, as the Tigers blocked 6 shots, stole 4 balls, and held the Cougars to a 36.5% shooting percentage from the field and 11.1% from 3pt. This is a strong, competitive LSU Tigers team, and once they figure out how to remedy the turnover problem, they’ll be a weapon in the SEC.
The Tigers travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take on the 8-3 Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who as of this moment are 18th in RPI. Tipoff for that matchup is Thursday, December 22nd at 8pm CST, and will be televised on ESPNU. This will be the last game before #SECBasketballFever is officially upon us next week.