The LSU men’s basketball team got back in the win column Tuesday night, snapping a two-game losing streak and sweeping the season series with Texas A&M by beating the Aggies 78-66.
The game started off beautifully for LSU...until it stopped. Then it looked like LSU was well on its way to a third straight loss...until they weren’t. Will Wade’s Tigers experienced the full gamut of emotions within Tuesday’s game but fortunately it ended with a victory.
The first half couldn’t have started better for LSU. The Tigers opened the game scoring 10 of the first 12 points and forced Texas A&M to take an early timeout.
But the Aggie timeout wouldn’t stem LSU’s offense for long. A&M was able to score a quick five points and make it a 10-7 game coming out of the timeout, but LSU would score 25 points over a ten minute stretch and give LSU a commanding 17-point lead.
The game should have been over there but A&M took a page out of Alabama’s book and bombard LSU with three pointers. Jay Jay Chandler would score 11 points in the final five minutes of the first half to help cut the 17-point deficit to three.
A&M wouldn’t stop chipping away and eventually overtook LSU. The Aggies went on a 16-2 run midway through the second half to grab a six-point lead, a lead that they wouldn’t be able to hold.
LSU can hardly be considered a strong defensive team, but Tuesday night the Tigers shut down A&M when it mattered most. Chandler would hit a three to give A&M a 66-60 lead with 8:50 to play, and the Aggies wouldn’t score a single point the rest of the game.
LSU would score the game’s final 18 points, and 16 came at either the free throw line or from three. Cam Thomas led the rally, scoring nine points over the game’s final 7:48 including making all three free throws he attempted.
Statistically speaking, LSU is the best free throw shooting team in the conference in makes, attempts and shooting percentage and it proved to be a strength again Tuesday. The Tigers got to the line 20 times and hit 18 attempts.
LSU’s core four—Thomas, Javonte Smart, Darius Days and Trendon Watford—did the heavy lifting again for LSU, scoring 71 of LSU’s 78 points. Thomas led all scorers with 28 points, and in two games against A&M, he’s averaging a cool 30 points.
Javonte Smart had one of his best games of the season with 19 points, 4 made threes and 9 assists; Watford had 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists; and Darius Days continued to be a floor spacer for LSU, hitting 3-5 threes.
Up next for LSU is the toughest three-game stretch on its schedule. LSU plays No. 10 Texas Tech Saturday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, and next week the Tigers get their second shot at No. 9 Alabama and Florida, both of whom have already beaten LSU.