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A Giant Pig Roast: LSU annilihates Arkansas to end three-game skid

LSU’s Will Baker and Jalen Cook help pace LSU’s efficient shooting in 95-74 victory over Arkansas.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Roasted pig wasn’t on the menu, but LSU made sure it was on the table as the Tigers dominated SEC rival Arkansas by a score of 95-74.

It’s the first time since Feb. 20, 2020, that the Tigers have scored 90 points against an SEC opponent when they defeated Auburn 104-80. It’s also the last time LSU (12-9, 4-4 SEC) defeated a SEC opponent by at least 20 points until today.

A huge reason for LSU’s blowout win over Arkansas (11-11, 2-7 SEC) was its efficient shooting as the Tigers shot 54.7% from the field and made 12 out of their 23 three-point attempts (52.2%). The Tigers also made 89.3 % of their free throw attempts from the charity line.

LSU forward Will Baker led both teams in points with 25 points. Baker shot 9-for-11 from the field and 4-for-5 from behind the three-point arc. He also picked up two rebounds, an assist and a block.

Jalen Cook also had an efficient game shooting the ball as well. Cook scored 20 points as he went 5-for-8 from the field and 3-for-5 from three. He also had three assists, three rebounds and two steals.

Interestingly, Cook largely came off the bench as the sixth man due to his struggles turning the ball over the last few games which was evident by his 11-to-24 assist-to-turnover ratio in SEC play. This led to LSU head coach Matt McMahon turning to guard Trae Hannibal getting the start. This paid dividends as Hannibal didn’t turn the ball over a single time and Cook’s scoring effort provided a spark plug for LSU.

“I just wanted to come in, you know, create a spark,” Cook said.

McMahon said there wasn’t much to read into about the lineup change after the game. However, he did acknowledge that the lineup change was a key piece in LSU’s win.

“Sometimes a change, whether that’s coming off the bench to where you get to see what’s happening on the floor, helps you refocus and lock in on doing the things you need to do to help your team,” McMahon said. “I thought both guys handled it exceptionally well.”

Hannibal recorded six points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. His best play of the game was when he had a one-hand dunk that was assisted by LSU guard Jordan Wright on a play that was SportsCenter Top 10 worthy.

Sophomore forward Jalen Reed and freshman guard Mike Williams also were major contributors to the victory as well. Reed was a force in the paint as he had seven points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Williams was an absolute sharpshooter from the perimeter as he scored 13 points and made four of his six three-point attempts.

LSU has a rugged schedule coming up with road trips to Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina as well as home matchups with Alabama and Kentucky. All of those teams are in the Top Six in the SEC standings. Four out of those five teams are projected to be at least a sixth-seed in the NCAA tournament according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.

However, if LSU can shoot efficiently like they did today, LSU could pull off a few upsets and make a push for the NCAA tournament even though that is a tough ask given how tough the SEC has been this season.

LSU will travel to take on fifth-ranked Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. CT.