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Men’s Hoops Protect Homecourt Against Tennessee 79-67

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Two top-20 wins in one week

In front of a sold out PMAC the No. 21 LSU men’s basketball team (14-1, 2-1) thoroughly dominated No. 18 Tennessee (10-4, 1-2) 79-67 and picked up its second straight SEC win.

For LSU it was its 13th straight win at home and its second win over a top-20 team this week. That’s only happened four times in program history, and hasn’t happened since 2000 according to Todd Politz

Saturday was billed as a matchup between the top two defenses in America according to KenPom and LSU was once again excellent. The Tigers held Tennessee to 38 percent shooting overall and 25 percent from three. LSU also forced 16 turnovers, resulting in 23 points, and blocked six of Tennessee’s shots.

Tennessee jumped out on top of LSU 9-3 before the Tigers responded after the under-16 timeout. That’s when Brandon Murray scored five straight points to cut the lead to one and Tari Eason would split a pair of free throws to tie it.

Murray’s five quick points would spark a 20-9 LSU run that put the Tigers up nine at the under-8 timeout. For the rest of the first half, LSU’s lead would ebb and flow sometimes getting as low as four points, other times it would stay in the 9-10 point advantage.

The second half is when LSU blew the game open with, what else? , their defense. The Tigers held Tennessee to just seven points over the first four minutes and LSU’s would score 11 straight points to grab a 62-42 lead.

But give the Vols credit, Tennessee kept battling in the second half and cut LSU’s 20-point lead down to 11. That’s when Tari Eason had enough and dunked Tennessee’s Olivier Nkamhoua to the depths of hell.

Eason’s final stat line Saturday was 24 points, 12 rebounds, 2, blocks, 1 assist, and 1 body bag.

Saturday wasn’t all good for LSU as Xavier Pinson slipped on a wet spot on the court and collapsed with a terrible looking knee injury. However, it appears as though Pinson escaped serious harm and only suffered a sprain that will keep him out “days to a week” as Will Wade put it.

For LSU, Saturday’s win was one of their best efforts of the season. Prior to his injury, Pinson had 9 points and 7 assists; Brandon Murray scored 13 while Darius Days had 15. The trio combined to hit 5-11 threes. Even MWani Wilkinson was feeling it as he hit a pair of threes en route to an eight-point effort.

Eric Gaines continued to be a bit of a wildcard off the bench. Gaines scored seven points and got to the line seven times, but also had five turnovers versus one assist. Freshman forward Alex Fudge had great effort off the bench grabbing five rebounds, four on the offensive end and one sensational block.

After dropping its SEC opener, LSU rebounded in a big way at home with a pair of wins over Kentucky and Tennessee. Now they’ll need to prove they can win in a true road environment as four of their next six games are on the road, including a rematch with these very same Volunteers January 22.

Next up LSU goes on the road to Florida on Wednesday before hosting Arkansas on Saturday. The Gators and Razorbacks are 0-2 and 0-3 respectively in conference play so both teams are desperate for a win.

Tipoff Wednesday night is 6:00 P.M., and the game will be carried on ESPN2.