The LSU Men’s basketball team gave No. 1 Oklahoma all it could handle on Saturday night, but its upset bid fell just short in a 77-75 thriller in front of a sold out crowd at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Two of the biggest stars in college basketball were on display as Oklahoma senior guard Buddy Hield and LSU freshman forward Ben Simmons squared off in front of a national television audience.
Simmons scored 14 points on 6-7 shooting in an efficient, but quiet game for his standards, with 10 of his points coming in the second half. However, Hield was the best player on the court tonight as the Sooners escaped Baton Rouge with a gritty road win.
Hield scored a game-high 32 points, including an 8-15 clip from beyond the three point arch. A barrage of his three pointers toward the end of the second half put Oklahoma back in the game after LSU built a 14 point lead earlier in the half.
“He got a couple open looks in the second half,” LSU junior guard Tim Quarterman said. “We were attached to him in the first half. We were giving him a hard time at the beginning, but he got freed up during their fast break opportunities, and he took advantage.”
21 of Hield’s 32 points came in the second half as he went 7-11 from three point range.
Oklahoma had two chances to make it a two-possession game at the free throw line in the final minute, but sophomore forward Khadeem Lattin and junior guard Jordan Wooden both missed the front end of a one and one, keeping the door open for LSU.
Sophomore guard Antonio Blakeney nailed a three pointer to tie the game with 24 seconds left, sending the sold out crowd in Baton Rouge into a frenzy. However, the Sooners responded out of a timeout when senior guard Isaiah Cousins hit a jumper over sophomore guard Jaylynn Patterson with four seconds left.
On the following possession, Quarterman caught the ball under LSU’s basket and never gave it up, missing a driving layup as the clock expired.
“It was a great battle, and I thought LSU played great,” Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said. “Of course Johnny Jones does a terrific job, so no surprise there. Guys on both teams made big shots down the stretch. We were just fortunate to get the last possession.”
Oklahoma improved to 18-2 on the season and avoided its second setback on the road as No.1 this month. The Sooners lost to No. 19 Iowa State on January 18th.
LSU dropped to 13-8, suffering just its second home loss of the season after winning four of its previous five games against Southeastern Conference opponents. The Tigers will try to bounce back on the road against Auburn this Tuesday.
“What’s good about [this game] is that we played a high caliber team that plays at a certain level,” Jones said. “They have the type of guys that are in our conference that we have to compete against week in and week out. What we’ll take from it is being able to play at that level against that caliber of competition night in and night out, and we’ll see what happens.”