Despite a double digit comeback and a huge game-tying shot, the LSU Tigers still managed to lay an egg on the road again, as they fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks by a score of 83-74. The Tigers fall to 16-13 (7-10) with virtually no hope left of making the NCAA Tournament, while the Gamecocks improve to 16-14 (7-10).
After a tremendous display of effort and focus to come back from a 15 point deficit, the Tigers had twelve seconds to score three points and send the game into overtime. Tremont Waters—who else at this point—answered the call to easily sink his second three pointer of the game, leaving three seconds for South Carolina to miss a halfcourt attempt.
LSU was outscored 11-2 in overtime, even after star power forward Chris Silva fouled out in regulation. They missed their first six shots from the field and turned the ball over twice before a Sampson tip-in gave the Tigers their first overtime points of the season, but only 45 seconds remained.
The funny thing about this game, LSU actually won the rebound battle 39-33, their most rebounds since the 52 point win over North Florida. The offense was slow to start the game, even slower to start the second half, and never even started in overtime. It didn’t help that the Gamecocks started shooting out of their minds on Senior Night, led by the seniors themselves.
Frank Booker, a grad transfer from Florida Atlantic, shot only 27.8% from beyond the arc last year as an Owl, but you’d have no idea tonight as he would lead his team in scoring and tie his career-high with 25 points and shot 6-of-7 from the three point line. Wesley Myers, a grad transfer from Maine, made fourteen trips to the foul line tonight and came away with eleven points that way. He finished the night with a very impressive stat line of 23 points (season-high), 7 rebounds (season-high), and 4 assists.
As far as season and career-high performances go, freshman Brandon Rachal opened some eyes tonight, leading the floor with his career-high 13 rebounds. Tremont Waters led the Tigers with 19 points, but that’s about as much as I’m going to praise the offense for what we just had to watch.
LSU finished the night shooting 7-of-25 from behind the three point line. Skylar Mays and Brandon Sampson, making up for an injured Daryl Edwards, combined to make only two of their thirteen attempts. It’s not so much the shooting percentage that gets to me, it’s how much the three ball was tried when it didn’t need to be.
South Carolina’s most dangerous offensive and defensive weapon in Chris Silva went to the bench early with two fouls, and picked up a quick third to start the second half. He only played 28 of tonight’s 45 minutes, yet the Tigers kept throwing up prayers while the weakened Gamecock frontcourt begged to be exploited. There’s a reason LSU outscored the home team 36-18 in the paint, and it should’ve been much worse.
With this loss, I’m pretty confident in saying the improbable dream of an appearance in this year’s NCAA Tournament is over, barring an even more improbable run in the SEC Tournament next week. There’s still plenty to play for, as an NIT berth isn’t exactly guaranteed at the moment, but I’m just along for the ride in watching our players and program improve for the last few games of the season.
LSU returns home for their Senior Game this Saturday against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. That contest will tip off at noon on the SEC Network. Be sure to show your support and give all of our seniors a very well-deserved sendoff.