The 2021-2022 LSU men’s basketball season came to an end Friday night in Milwaukee as the Tigers were eliminated by Iowa State in the Midwestern Region’s 6-11 game 59-54.
It was an ugly game as neither team shot the ball particularly well, but Iowa State used 12 three-pointers, seven by Big 12 Freshman of the Year Tyrese Hunter. He would lead all players with 23 points and Izaiah Brockington would add 19 points.
The issues that plagued LSU in each and every one of their 12 losses this season resurfaced again Friday night. LSU turned it over 19 times; Tari Eason was held to just 19 minutes because he was hit with four fouls; and while the point guard duo of Xaiver Pinson and Eric Gaines combined for nine assists, they only scored a total of two points.
LSU only led once Friday night, at 5-3 with 17:47 to play in the first half. Brandon Murray hit his one and only shot of the night and LSU would never hold a lead for the rest of the night.
The Tigers got close in the second half, getting within a point at 51-50 with 2:13 to play, but Hunter hit his sixth three of the night coming out of a timeout to get the Cyclones back up four. He hit the killshot, his seventh three of the night, about a minute later to give Iowa State the 59-54 final advantage.
In his last game as an LSU Tiger Darius Days had one final double-double going for 14 points and 12 rebounds; and in what is likely his final game as a Tiger, Tari Eason led LSU in scoring with 18 points and was a perfect 7-7 at the free throw line.
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Friday night was the end of LSU men’s basketball as we’ve known it over the past five years. Darius Days and Xavier Pinson are both graduating; Tari Eason is a likely first round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft; and depending on whatever coach Scott Woodward hires and sanctions may or may not be arriving it’s likely we see defectors from some underclassmen.
But whatever looms on the horizon I’d say the Will Wade era was 1000000 percent worth it. LSU men’s basketball was relevant and successful for five years., the longest stretch since Dale Brown The Tigers went to the NIT in year one under Wade, won the SEC and made the Sweet 16 in year two, and would be riding a four-year streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances had it not been cancelled in 2020.
As they said in Field of Dreams: if you build it they will come and that’s what Wade did; that’s what Kim Mulkey’s doing right now for the women’s hoops program; and that’s what I hope the next coach and whatever new players that join the team can do, hopefully as early as this fall.
Boot up, y’all. Now and always.