LSU (16-5, 4-4) continued its losing ways Saturday morning in Fort Worth as the Tigers fell against TCU in the opening game of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
It was a back and forth game in the first half up until the end when TCU closed the first half on a 7-0 run. LSU did themselves no favors and missed their final four shots of the half and went down 38-29.
TCU would lead for the entire second half and led by as many as 16 points. The Horned Frogs blitzed LSU thanks to three straight threes by Chuck O’Bannon. The second half ended the same way as the first: TCU made their shots late (five of their last seven), while LSU went nearly three whole minutes without a basket.
LSU to their credit wouldn’t roll over. The Tigers would make it a 55-54 game with 9:36 remaining but LSU would not be able to tie or take the lead. Like we saw against Auburn, Alabama, and the rematch against Tennessee, LSU dug themselves a hole to steep to climb out of. It’s a concerning trend and it’s happening far too often now.
Brandon Murray and Eric Gaines both had pretty good albeit inefficient games. Murray scored 10 points but needed 13 shots to get there. He hit a pair of threes to help LSU climb back into the game; Gaines on the other hand had 14 points on 4-10 shooting and was 5-6 at the free throw line. He also flashed his playmaking ability with six assists and three steals but was tagged for four fouls. Tari Eason entered the starting lineup and led LSU in scoring with 16 points.
If there is good news for LSU its the team appears to be getting healthier. Darius Days was back in the starting lineup and had a monster 14-point, 12-rebound game. Xavier Pinson played seven minutes in the first half, his first time lacing up since his knee sprain in the first Tennessee game.
The other good news is Saturday was, obviously, not a conference game so LSU won’t lose ground in the race for a double-bye. For whatever reason LSU continues to struggle in this Big 12/SEC Challenge as their record drops to 2-4 in these games.
And so LSU closes the book on a rough month of January. LSU went 4-4 this month but have dropped four of its last five games. Fortunately, none of those four losses are “bad” losses as all four teams—Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, and TCU—should all be dancing come tournament time. That said the more losses LSU piles up, the farther down the bracket they’ll drop. LSU’s still listed as a 3-seed on bracketmatrix.com but with the loss today they’ll surely drop to the 4 or 5 line. Remember, prior to this losing stretch, the Tigers were firmly in the 2-seed on bracketmatrix and some publications had the Tigers as a 1.
LSU’s next game will be a Tuesday night home contest against Ole Miss. Tipoff is set for 8:00 and the game will be carried on SEC Network.