After leading by 10 at halftime and as much as 15 in the second half, the LSU Tigers fell to the Houston Cougars Wednesday night in Houston 82-76. LSU’s record falls to 7-3 while the Cougars improve to 9-0 and extend their home winning streak to 22 games.
The Tigers have now lost nine straight true road games and will end the calendar year of 2018 without a single true road win.
Thirteen seconds into the second half, Naz Reid dropped in a layup to extend LSU’s lead to 47-35. The Tigers would fail to score a single shot from the field for another ten minutes and eighteen seconds, a Darius Days layup. Although the Tigers scored 10 points on free throws during that field goal drought, the damage had been done. What initially seemed like a relatively easy night for the Tigers turned into a one possession game while LSU did...nothing.
The entire second half was frustrating as hell, and I’m sure if you’re like me you had war flashbacks of the Simmons season...all that talent on the court yet seemingly no offensive plan when the crowd gets to them. It’s an issue that haunted Wade’s squad last year and unfortunately seems to be the case so far this year: they turn clueless and just can’t win on the road.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves with negativity, we’ve really got to give credit where it’s due. KenPom had Houston ranked as the 28th best defense in the nation and that was very evident in their performance tonight. Shooting 37% from the field and giving up 18 offensive rebounds and 16 turnovers won’t win very many games at all, but fortunately I don’t think there are too many teams that could do that to LSU. Houston is special and coming to a TruTV near you.
Ja’Vonte Smart led scoring for the Tigers with 18 points on 14 shots and snagged a pair of rebounds and steals. His point guard counterpart Tremont Waters was stunningly not great tonight, shooting a very poor 3-of-13 from the field and giving up 5 turnovers.
Naz Reid scored 13 points in 20 minutes, but found himself in foul trouble pretty early in the second half. Had LSU been working with Reid during that long field goal drought, who knows how this could’ve gone. But a physical team like Houston will frustrate young big guys like Reid and Darius Days (who ended up fouling out) and force them to make dumb mistakes.
From here, the Tigers will head to Las Vegas for the Neon Hoops Showcase against the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday. The Gaels won 30 games last season before falling to mutual opponent Utah in the quarterfinals of the NIT.