Texas A&M’s second-half explosion was too much for LSU as the Aggies defeat the Tigers 73-69 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday.
A big reason for Texas A&M’s second-half surge was guard Wade Taylor. Despite not scoring a single point in the first half, Taylor led both teams with 19 points with all of them scored in the second half. Taylor also had five rebounds and four assists.
Another big reason for Texas A&M’s victory was their domination of getting balls off the glass as Texas A&M out rebounded LSU 48-34. The Aggies also recorded 21 offensive rebounds compared to the Tigers six. If that’s not bad enough, LSU did not score a single second-chance point while Texas A&M scored 27.
“They crashed really hard,” forward Jalen Reed said. “They sent a lot of people to the glass. Tonight, we just weren’t getting them. I really wish I had an answer for why.”
In the first half, LSU was on both paper and to the human eye the better team. LSU led 35-33 as they had excellent ball movement, great chemistry and were shooting efficiently from the free throw line. However, the Tigers were losing the rebounding battle 21-19 and allowed the Aggies to score eight second-chance points which allowed the first half to be much closer than it did.
Taylor then exploded as he scored seven of Texas A&M’s first nine points of the second half to take a 42-38 lead with 17:23. Taylor’s scoring helped propel a 14-3 run to open the second half.
With under seven minutes left, LSU forward Tyrell Ward and LSU guard Jordan Wright hit back-to-back threes to take a 65-63 lead.
However, Texas A&M guard and Baton Rouge native Tyrese Radford hit a layup and a jumper on two straight possessions to put the Aggies up 67-a 65 with just under five minutes.
After Ward tied the game up at 67 with 4:09 left to go in the game, Taylor nailed a three-pointer with 2:56 left in the game. LSU would have a chance to take the lead after forward Jalen Reed scored on a layup with 1:04 left in the game, but two straight possessions were ailed by poor shot selections sealed the Tigers’ fate.
“They came out with a chip on their shoulder,” said Wright, who had a team-leading 15 points. “We didn’t meet the challenge, we didn’t meet the physicality. So that’s something that we got to look in the mirror, and say, ‘Are we going to be the tougher team or are we just gonna fold over?’”
LSU struggled late in the game as it had missed two out of its 11 shot attempts and played a lot of isolation, the exact opposite of how LSU played in the first half.
“Too much dribbling,” head coach Matt McMahon said. “Couple of zero-pass possessions… That played into their hands there.”
Defensively, LSU has 9.8 steals as a team but it only stole the ball one time against Texas A&M on Saturday.
If there was one bright spot in today’s game, it was the crowd. The attendance at the PMAC was 9,085 and it was rocking for most of the game, especially in critical moments.
LSU will hope to bounce back after its tough loss against Georgia on Wednsda, Jan. 24 at Stageman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia.