LSU MBB falls to Texas Tech

LSU men's basketball junior guard Javonte Smart (1) chats with a referee Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021 during LSU's 76-71 loss against Texas Tech at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on N Stadium Drive in Baton Rouge, La. 

The LSU basketball team traveled to Humphrey Coliseum to take on Mississippi State on Wednesday night. The Tigers had their February 6 matchup against Florida postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak within Florida’s program. LSU defeated the Bulldogs 94-80, breaking a two-game losing streak.

It was a back-and-forth battle early as both teams continuously traded baskets in the first half. The Tigers managed to turn defense into offense as they scored 12 points off the Bulldogs’ seven turnovers.

Freshman guard Cam Thomas led the way with 13 points on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting in the first half. Junior guard Javonte Smart added 11 points, two rebounds and three assists as LSU took a 41-39 lead at the break.

The Tigers got off to an 11-4 run to start the second half and began to pull away. LSU held on to at least a two-possession lead for almost ten minutes before Mississippi State trimmed it to just three.

The Tigers kept the Bulldogs at bay before they extended their lead to 12. LSU led for the final 2:45 of the first half and the entire second half while coasting to the victory. Smart shined as he recorded his first double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 assists. He also grabbed four rebounds and recorded one steal.

“I thought we played with an edge, thought we moved the ball,” Will Wade said. “This was closer to how we need to be playing. Our Big Four (Thomas, Watford, Days, Smart) shot great. It was about as efficient of an offensive night as you could have.”

Thomas led all scorers with 25 points while adding four rebounds and four assists. Junior forward Darius Days returned to the lineup after suffering a sprained ankle on January 30 against Texas Tech. He also recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

“Darius played real good tonight,” Smart said. “He helped us space the floor. His pick-and-pop threes are unbelievable. He gave us a lot of energy. We needed him to knock them down early, and he was there to hit them for us.”

The Tigers shot 61 percent from the field as a team and 45 percent from deep. After their worst shooting performance of the year against Alabama on February 3, LSU produced one of their best shooting nights of the season.

“Our ball movement, just everything was night and day better than how it’s been,” said coach Will Wade. “We’re in position now. With the way our resume is we don’t have any bad losses. We’ve just gotta get some good wins, so every opportunity for a good win is an important game for us.”

The Tigers will return to the Pete Maravich Assembly center this weekend when they host No. 16 Tennessee on Saturday afternoon.

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