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Basketball escapes Texas with 69-67 win over Longhorns

Tigers survive yet another close call

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The LSU men’s basketball team continued to live life on the edge as the Tigers (15-4, 6-0) survived a furious second half rally by the Texas Longhorns (12-7, 2-4) and won its eighth consecutive game.

The Tigers appeared to be well on its way to an easy victory over a Texas team that had fallen on hard times. LSU led by ten at halftime and built a 16-point lead in the second half. But Texas would go on a 22-4 run over a ten minute span and the Longhorns would take a 58-56 lead with 4:52 remaining.

The LSU offense, which was so explosive in the first half, was in a rut for the majority of the second half. After shooting 54 percent from the floor and going 5-9 from three in the game’s first 20 minutes, the Tigers shot 32 percent and missed all seven of its threes in the second half.

But LSU, as it has so many times over the past three weeks, was able to hold on and extend is winning streak. Saturday was LSU’s sixth consecutive win by four or fewer points.

Trendon Watford continued to live up to his five-star billing and led the Tigers with 22 points and six rebounds. Watford also made several good passes to teammates, earning three assists, and was aggressive in the paint, getting to the free throw line seven times. And while Watford hasn’t been the best free throw shooter, he made a pair with 16 seconds left to put LSU up four and essentially end the game.

While Watford led LSU in scoring, Skylar Mays continued to make his case for being the SEC player of the year. Mays had 10 points, including three free throws in the final 49 seconds, had seven rebounds, five assists and a steal.

Rebounding has been a strength of LSU’s the past two seasons and the trend continued again this afternoon. The Tigers out-rebounded Texas 36-23 including 15-9 on the offensive end. Those extra possessions led to 15 second chance points and helped the Tigers get to the free throw line 20 times, including 14 in the second half.

With the win, LSU improved its record in the Big 12-SEC Challenge to 2-2. The conferences have split the first four games after Auburn beat Iowa State 80-76, Oklahoma scraped by Mississippi State 63-62 and West Virginia blew out Missouri 74-51.

Up next for LSU, the Tigers will try to remain as the SEC’s only unbeaten team as it hosts Alabama Wednesday evening.