The end result of tonight’s LSU men’s basketball game against East Tennessee did not truly reflect the struggles the Tigers faced.
The Tigers suffered one of the worst losses of the Will Wade era as they fell 74-63 to ETSU. Senior guard Skylar Mays said he felt that ETSU simply “wanted it” more than the Tigers did.
“Obviously a tough night,” Wade said. “East Tennessee played tremendously. Give them credit. They had a great, great gameplay. They shrunk the paint on us and then they just pinned their ears back and killed us on the offensive glass. So kind of our two Achilles heels this year popped themselves back up.”
“The turnover problem – we turned it over 15 times tonight. And then getting smashed on the glass like that – them getting 19 offensive rebounds. They got 15 more shots than we did. That really, really hurt us. It was just too much for us, ultimately to overcome.”
Like Wade said, LSU struggled mostly on the boards, as ETSU out-rebounded the Tigers 40-29 and 19-7 on the offensive end.
Sophomore forward Emmitt Williams led the Tigers with 11 rebounds, but no other player had more than five on the night. Williams also led the team with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field.
Wade emphasized that the guards need to contribute more on the glass and Williams can only do so much in a single game. Senior guard Skylar Mays, who averages 4.7 rebounds per game, pointed out that he didn’t have one rebound tonight.
“We’ve got to have more from those guys,” Wade said. “Those guys have got to help us. We’re just not that big down there and a lot of the rebounds were long rebounds that our guards have to get.”
It was a back-and-forth contest for most the the first half, but ETSU pulled away late to lead 38-29 at halftime. Every time the Tigers would get a stop, ETSU would get second, third and fourth chances to score again.
“We got a bunch of stops, but we couldn’t get a rebound,” Wade said. “That was the problem. We stopped them five or six straight times, but we couldn’t rebound the ball. We could never extend our lead and get ourselves a working margin.”
It got even worse in the second half, as ETSU’s lead was as large as 22 at one point. LSU put up a fight in the end cutting the lead to 10 with about four minutes left in the game, but it was too little, too late for the Tigers.
Mays said at this point in the season, it’s about the effort the Tigers are putting in, night after night. He emphasized that it’s an “effort thing.”
“It is a work in progress,” Mays said. “We have a young group. We just have to keep chipping at the rock. We have a great coaching staff who is going to do the best they can to put us in the best position for everybody individually and as a team. But it starts with playing hard.”