BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU basketball team couldn’t hold on.
The LSU basketball team let a 10-point halftime lead slip away Tuesday, losing to Georgia 61-60. With the loss, LSU improved to 11-6 on the year and 2-3 in SEC play, while Georgia improved to 12-5 and 3-3 in SEC play.
“We controlled the pace in the first half. Second half they controlled things, got the ball to their best player,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “They beat us up in the paint, beat us up on the glass. We had them within one on the boards at halftime and I think we lost it by 11. They rebounded 13 of their 31 misses, I think that’s in the high 40 [percents]. That’s almost 50 percent. They just physically beat us up.”
With 54 seconds remaining in the game, Georgia guard Juwan Parker hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 59-58 lead. LSU answered on the ensuing possession as Duop Reath hit a mid-range jumper to regain the lead for the Tigers. The Bulldogs took the ball down the court and missed a shot but corralled the offensive rebound, leading to a timeout with 14.8 seconds remaining.
Out of the timeout, Georgia forward and the SEC’s leading scorer Yante Maten hooked in a couple more points, giving Georgia a 61-60 lead with 5.7 seconds left. LSU freshman guard Tremont Waters heaved a long 3-pointer with about two seconds left but missed the rim entirely, leading to the LSU loss.
“When he split the double team, I think he thought there was less time on the clock than there was,” Wade said. “I thought he could’ve gotten another couple of dribbles; I thought he could’ve gotten to the elbow. But that’s the way it goes.”
LSU played stifling defense in the first half, holding the Bulldogs to 24 points as they shot 41 percent from the field and 1-for-9 from 3-point range. Most impressively, the Tigers held Maten to 4 points on 2-of-8 shooting in the half on the way to a 34-24 halftime lead.
Georgia quickly erased LSU’s lead to start the second half. The Bulldogs scored the first 8 points of the half and opened on a 14-3 run overall to take the lead in less than six minutes. After this stretch, Georgia couldn’t establish a lead though, as the Bulldogs and Tigers traded buckets for the rest of the game without either team taking anything larger than a 5-point lead.
Junior guard Brandon Sampson started played his best game in SEC play, putting up a team-high 17 points with 3 made 3-pointers. Prior to Tuesday, Sampson hadn’t made a 3-pointer in SEC play. The junior also added 3 rebounds.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with starting,” Sampson said of his resurgence. “I told myself before the game to be more aggressive. I think finally getting to the basket helped me square out my game.”
Rebounding was the story of the second half. Georgia out-rebounded LSU 23-13 in the second period, including 8 offensive rebounds to LSU’s 4. Maten proved to be his dominant self again in the second half, posting 17 points and 8 rebounds in the final 20 minutes.
Georgia outscored LSU 17-5 in second-chance points.
What’s next for LSU basketball?
The LSU basketball team travels to Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday to face off against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The game is scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m. CT and will be televised on the SEC Network.