Wednesday night Matt McMahon (12-1, 1-0) scored the first and biggest win of his LSU tenure as the Tigers took down #9 Arkansas (11-2, 0-1) 60-57 to open conference play.
It was night the most aesthetically pleasing game of basketball you’ll ever see—both teams shot under 30 percent in the first half—but Ws count all the same these days.
“A couple of things stand out. Number one, I’m proud of our players,” Matt McMahon said. “I thought that they played with great toughness and effort and sustained it for 40 minutes. They deserve all the credit for gutting out a tough and nasty win here.”
“The second thing: just walking out of the tunnel and seeing the crowd and atmosphere. The energy in the building on December 28th with a top-10 team in the country on our court was awesome. We’re really thankful to the great Tiger fans who came out tonight and we’re really proud of our players for beating an outstanding basketball team.”
It takes a village to upset a legit Final Four contender and LSU got help from everyone who took the floor wearing purple and gold. Trae Hannibal led LSU in scoring with 19 points off the bench. while Derek Fountain had a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double; Adam Miller didn’t have his best night shooting (7 points off 2-9 shooting) but iced the game with a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds to play.
I’ve long been on the record that this 2022-2023 LSU team would be a lot better than they had any right being. Wednesday was the program showing us that this may not be the total rebuild we feared after Will Wade was fired and players and recruits alike jumped ship. Will this group challenge the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee for SEC supremacy? No, probably not. But could these Tigers tread water in the SEC and be a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament? Absolutely and beating a team as good as this Arkansas team is a great step forward.
Cheers to your first big win as LSU head coach, Matt McMahon. May you have many more.