When they needed a strong performance to show the Tournament committee why they would deserve a spot, the LSU Tigers fell absolutely flat against the Georgia Bulldogs this afternoon, losing by a score of 93-82. LSU’s record falls to 16-12 (7-9) while the Bulldogs improve to 16-12 (7-9). Both teams are now tied for ninth place in the SEC, but Georgia obviously holds the tiebreaker over LSU, having beaten them twice this season.
The obvious struggle surrounded LSU’s inability to guard or rebound around the NBA-ready Yante Maten. The senior power forward snagged 11 of Georgia’s 49 total rebounds, while LSU finished with only 34. At the half, the Bulldogs had 12 offensive rebounds to LSU’s measly 10 defensive rebounds. Maten would go on to finish with 27 points and tied a career-high with 6 blocks.
Georgia was able to pull ahead by 22 points for a moment in the beginning of the second half, and it never got much better from there.
Fouling issues aside, this afternoon’s display served as a sobering reminder of LSU’s inadequacy in the frontcourt. Getting completely demolished on the boards and letting a superstar like Yante Maten play the game he wants to play is never a recipe for success, but there’s only so much the Tigers can do at this point. I hate to blame the players for a lack of talent, but in today’s case, the personnel outweighed any influence of coaching or scheme. We just don’t have the guys to execute against elite players yet.
If we want to fish around for things to be happy about, the three point shooting was able to keep the deficit a little less embarrassing, an attack led by freshman Tremont Waters and his sophomore counterpart Skylar Mays. Waters nailed five of LSU’s ten three pointers to lead his squad with 25 points, while Mays played hard for the entire stretch until he fouled out, finishing with 20 points and an impressive 6 steals.
After a loss like this, there aren’t many positives to take away or negatives to learn from. They came in knowing exactly what they needed to do to have a chance to steal a win from the Bulldogs, but could just never execute properly. What that means for the home stretch: the Tigers need to win out if they want to be considered for the NCAA Tournament. A loss to South Carolina or a home loss to Mississippi State could prove to be fatal to their hopes, so I’d easily consider both to be critical “must-win” games.
The Tigers will stay on the road to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks this coming Wednesday, a team who’s beaten Georgia and first place Auburn recently. The Tigers are a projected one point underdog, and will have to overcome their now six game losing streak on the road.