The Tiger offense was nowhere to be found Thursday night in the PMAC as the No. 6 Bulldogs looked every bit a top-five team in the nation, thoroughly dismantling the Tigers 68-35.
The game was virtually over from the opening tip. The Bulldogs (20-1, 8-0) scored the game’s first 21 points and when the buzzer sounded, Mississippi State had a 22-4 lead and the Tigers never came close to threatening.
LSU (12-8, 3-5) would go on to score nine points in the second quarter, eight in the third before “erupting” for 14 points in the fourth. LSU shot 21 percent from the floor, 28 from three and 53 from the free throw line. It was truly one of the worst offensive performances in school history.
“We have to be better,” Ayana Mitchell said after the loss. “We have to be better as a team, we have to be better individually. We just have to be better.”
Going up against a team like State was going to be a tough task for LSU no matter what. Teaira McCowan is as dominant a center in collegiate basketball, and with her 6’7” frame, she towers over every player on LSU’s roster. The LSU guards had no driving lanes to work with and the Tiger frontcourt didn’t possess the height nor the length to make McCowan and Anriel Howard work in the low post.
“We just have to help the post,” Shanice Norton said. “We went through that in practice. It’s a matter of taking what we do in practice and putting it into a game.”
Though they allowed 68 points, LSU played Mississippi State better defensively than any opponent has all season. The Tigers, who rank 12th in the nation in points allowed, held Mississippi State to about 20 points below their scoring average. The Tigers also forced ten turnovers playing largely a zone defense. But that was hardly a consolation to Tiger coach Nikki Fargas.
“I think this team had moments in the game,” Fargas said. “I think we did some good things with battling with two really good post players. I think offensively we have to get a whole lot better a whole lot faster.”
The Lady Tigers have the weekend off before returning to the court Monday night to play Missouri.