For the third time this season, LSU found themselves on the very wrong side of a 20+ point game.
After an encouraging 2-1 start in conference play, the LSU Tigers have now lost five of their last six contests, dropping their record to 12-9 (3-6). The #18 Tennessee Volunteers are now on a four game winning streak, improving to 16-5 (6-3).
“We just didn’t have a lot of answers for those two guys,” Coach Wade spoke of Grant Williams and Jordan Bone. “Tennessee is a good team. They are balanced and physical and play extremely hard. It was a tough night for us.”
Bone and Williams combined for 28 points, with the former dishing out eight assists on zero turnovers. Despite missing a large chunk of the first half with an early back injury, Grant Williams scored 16 points in only 22 minutes. The real key factor for the Volunteers, however, was their bench.
“I mean it was like 44-8 bench points. They hammered us there,” continued Wade. “They hammered us pretty much everywhere, but they certainly have a lot of depth. They bring a bunch of guys in that all play extremely hard and all execute what Coach Barnes wants.”
While part of that bench points deficit is due to the pure talent and depth of Tennessee’s roster, some blame could be put on playing without the two dismissed and two suspended players. Albeit the dismissed Galen Alexander and Mayan Kiir rarely played meaningful minutes, losing Wayde Sims for the game brought the active roster down to only two forwards, and Brandon Rachal has shown potential to be a spark plug on offense. Sims and Rachal average a combined 10.0 points and 5.7 rebounds. They both return from their one game suspension after tonight.
Again, the Tigers badly lost the rebounding battle, this time by a count of 39-29. LSU has only once out-rebounded their opponent in the last six games. They allowed the Volunteers to shoot 54.1% from the field, including a 12-of-25 effort from beyond the arc. The Tigers are spread way too thin on defense, and just can’t compete when their opponent is very competent with multiple styles of offense. Remember that second win over Texas A&M? The Aggies made half as many three pointers on three more attempts than the Vols.
All that said, I really don’t want myself or anyone else to get too down on our team after these last couple of games. Auburn and Tennessee are both very strong, indisputable Tournament teams, and I’m talking a 2 or 3 seed. Our squad has some issues for sure, but those losses are forgivable. Those were the toughest two games on our entire schedule, so let’s move on and win some damn games.
The Tigers return to the PMAC this Saturday to take on Arkansas at 2:30pm. The Razorbacks are 15-7 (4-5) and have won four of their last six games. The two teams met in Fayetteville exactly three weeks ago, when the Tigers absolutely whipped Mike Anderson’s squad 75-54, their first and only loss of the season in Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas is currently 1-5 in true road games.