LSU basketball never makes it easy.
The Tigers trailed for all but 21 seconds before heading into the final five minutes against Missouri, but still managed to pull out a 82-78 victory against the other Tigers Tuesday night in the PMAC.
LSU trailed by as many as 12 at one point, but still bounced back in the second half to secure a victory after facing back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Auburn.
“We just needed to find a way to win and that’s what we did,” Wade said. “Missouri’s always a tough matchup for us. They make you play a lot of one-on-one. We just needed to find a way to win, and at the end of the day that’s what we did.
All five LSU starters finished in double-digit scoring — Darius Days (20), Trendon Watford (11), Emmitt Williams (11), Javonte Smart (15) and Skylar Mays (23).
Mizzou shot better than LSU — 51.7 percent to 47.2 percent — and out-rebounded LSU — 32 to 31 — but still struggled to close out down the stretch. Mizzou forward Reed Nikki and guard Dru Smith put up 13 and 20 points respectively.
The first half was one Wade and LSU would like to forget.
LSU shot 0-for-9 from the beyond the arc and 10-for-23 from the field. Mizzou on the other hand shot 7-for-13 from three and 16-for-31 from the field.
“Missouri deserves the credit,” Mays said. “They’re a great defensive team. They made us play a lot of one-on-one and we play our best basketball when we can get the ball moving and attack closeouts, but we were able to figure it out and score enough points to win.”
LSU ended the first half on a 6-0 run, capped off with a play drawn up for Watford at the buzzer. LSU only trailed 43-37 at the half.
“I just thought our defensive energy was low,” Wade said. “I thought they played harder than we did in the first half. Though we were able to turn it on in the second half which is not easy to do, but yeah, I thought our energy was a little bit low.”
“We should have been down 15 at the half,” Wade said.
Whatever Wade said at half time clearly spoke to the Tigers. LSU came out with high energy, opening on a 6-2 run
Mays made the first three-pointer of the game for LSU three minutes into the second half to cut Mizzou’s lead to 47-46 before a Darius Days tip in tied the game at 49 with 14:51 left in the game.
Mizzou then went on a 15-7 run and LSU was down 8 with 9:30 to play, before finally kicking in the final gear.
The Tigers went on a 7-0 run late in the second half after a Mays jumper and Days three.
What really saved LSU in the game was the ability to get to the free throw line. LSU got to the free throw line 34 times, making 29 of them. Mays led the way going 8-for-9 from the stripe.
“That’s what we do,” Mays said. “Like people have said before, we have four monsters who are great on the offensive glass. It’s easy to shoot with confidence knowing that your teammates are going to get it. We take pride in getting by guys, being unselfish, attacking closeouts and taking high percentage shots.”