For a half at least LSU was playing an ugly but winning game of basketball against the No. 20 Arkansas Razorbacks. The Tigers were having issues finding good shots, but so too was Arkansas and LSU scratched and clawed its way to a 37-32 first half lead.
But Saturday in Bud Walton was a true tale of two halves, and while LSU played a hideous second half Arkansas came alive, handing LSU its second straight loss 83-75.
The loss drops LSU to 14-8 and 9-6 overall and keeps LSU squarely in the crosshairs of the dreaded bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
LSU got drubbed 51-38 in the second half by Arkansas. LSU’s shot selection was questionable for most of the second half while the Hogs simply out-muscled the Tigers, getting easy looks at the rim while out-rebounding LSU 23-12 in the half. Arkansas was also the aggressor, getting to the free throw line 21 times in the second half while LSU only shot seven free throws.
The shooting woes that plagued LSU in Athens unfortunately followed them to Fayetteville. LSU had more possessions, 76, than points, 75, and the core four scoring options for LSU had nearly as many bricks as points.
Javonte Smart needed 14 shots to score 15 points; Trendon Watford needed 15 to score 16; and Darius Days had the worst game of his LSU career, missing all eight of his shots—all three-pointers— and scoring zero points. Days was also bogged down by four fouls. Cam Thomas scored 25 points, but was 1-5 from three and an uncharacteristic 2-4 from the free throw line. Thomas also grabbed a career-best seven rebounds.
Thomas opened the second half with a turnaround jumper to give LSU a seven point lead, but Arkansas immediately began chipping away at it. Arkansas would go on to outscore LSU 18 to seven and give the Hogs a lead it would never surrender.
Arkansas would not only take the lead, it would build and build upon the lead, getting up by as many as 21 points. LSU would spend the last two minutes scoring a bunch of garbage points that made the final score look closer than it appeared. But make no mistake, Arkansas got whatever it wanted in the second half and looked every bit like a top-20 team.
As for LSU, February was a rough month going 3-3 in the six played games. The only thing consistent about this Tiger team is how inconsistent they are. Could LSU get hot in Nashville and win the SEC Tournament? Or will they flame out in their first game and hope they’ve done enough for an NCAA Tournament bid? Both are equally likely.
LSU has two more games left in the regular season. The Tigers will be at home for the final time Tuesday against Vanderbilt and will get its makeup game with Missouri played next Saturday.