Men's Hoops vs McNeese

LSU men's basketball head coach Will Wade speaks to the referee Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, during LSU’s 85-46 win against McNeese in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on North Stadium Drive in Baton Rouge, La.

Before the Belmont Bruins faced off against the undefeated Tigers on Monday night, they averaged 88 points a game and hadn’t scored below 80 a single time this season. They were expected to give LSU trouble, only being listed as six-point underdogs.  

“That’s a Top-30, borderline Top-25 offense,” Head Coach Will Wade said. “They are the real deal. They’re going to win 25 plus games. They are the real deal.”  

Wade and his squad defeated the three win, two loss Bruins 83-53, becoming the first LSU team to hold five straight opponents to less than 60 points through five games since the 1946-47 season.

“This was a huge test tonight,” Wade said about the win. “I thought our discipline and urgency were really good. We were locked into what we needed to do and swarmed that ball. I thought it was a good defensive performance… This was not some bye game that we dominated.”     

Wade credited Tari Eason, who put up great numbers again with 17 points and seven rebounds, and Xavier Pinson, who got the offense going in the first half. Other than them, the team stood out as a whole, playing great defense, attacking the boards and shooting efficiently.  

Once again, despite facing a solid challenge, the Tigers made it look easy on their way to a resounding victory. With every win like this, some of the doubt and skepticism from the fanbase dissipates. 

However, this game was different from their battle against Liberty last week. Fans were sweating that game out until about three quarters into the second half. LSU had certain things they struggled with against the Flames, like turnovers and shooting at certain points, but there wasn’t much struggling on Monday.  

There was no sweating it out in this one. None at all.  

They accomplished this with two key components: efficient shooting and suffocating defense. 

After starting the game 0-5 from the field and going down by seven, LSU would go on a 25-4 run that would propel their shooting percentage to 50%. They would maintain that percentage until the end of the half.  

The other significant part about that run was how much time passed during it. Belmont scored a grand total of four points in 11 minutes of play, which was damaging not just during that run but for the remainder of the game.  

The problem on Belmont’s end was that LSU adjusted to the quickness of their offense and they got torn to shreds because of it. Their confidence dissipated with every minute that went by with little to no success.  

While LSU’s field goal percentage skyrocketed, Belmont’s plummeted into the low 30s by the end of the half and never truly recovered. All the while, LSU’s percentage continued to improve throughout the second half, going from 50% to 54% by the end of the game. 

They took that amazing run in the first half and simply built on it in the second, and the result was a blowout victory over a team that could end up in the NCAA tournament come March. This new LSU team is turning heads in the best way possible, and it will be exciting to see what they can do in Destin at the Emerald Coast Classic this weekend.

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