The LSU basketball team almost won. Then it didn’t.
Sophomore guard Antonio Blakeney was fantastic and LSU’s offense was characteristically effective, but that wasn’t enough to prevent a late Ole Miss charge, as the Rebels came back to defeat LSU, 96-76. With the loss, the Tigers’ 12th in a row, LSU drops to 9-16 on the season and 1-12 in SEC play.
Blakeney was electric in the first half, breaking out for 22 points and leading LSU to a season-high 47 points before intermission. Freshman point guard Skylar Mays served as Blakeney’s complementary option on offense for the first half, scoring 13 points and assisting on three more buckets.
And midway through the second half, LSU looked poised to keep things that way. The Tigers led by as many as 11 points early in the second period, but Ole Miss spent the middle of the half successfully trimming the deficit.
LSU held the lead for more than 25 minutes. Ole Miss didn’t officially regain the lead until there was less than seven minutes left in the game. But over the last four minutes, Ole Miss busted out on a 17-0 run to make the outcome look more one-sided than it actually was.
Player of the Game: Antonio Blakeney
Though he cooled down in the second half, take nothing away from Blakeney’s near-career day.
Blakeney finished with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, though he didn’t score a single point in the last 12 minutes of action. Still, Blakeney finished with a team-high Player Efficiency Rating of 23, even though only three of those 23 came in the second half.
When Blakeney was hot, the Tigers were hot. When he couldn’t buy a point, neither could LSU. Plain and simple.
Stat of the Game: LSU’s front court starters
Wayde Sims and Duop Reath started at forward for LSU. They combined to do nothing but hurt the Tigers.
Sims and Reath both fouled out, combining to score 3 points and turn the ball over 4 times in the process. Ole Miss’ starting forwards, by comparison, combined for 20 points and 8 rebounds.
It’s hard to single out one moment when LSU lost control.
Midway through the second half, the wheels just fell off for LSU. The Tigers shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the first half but cooled to 28 percent in the second half, making just 7 field goals in the period. Blakeney accounted for 9 field goals on his own in the first half.
Additionally, the Tigers turned the ball over 12 times in the second half, compared to 3 assists. And while Ole Miss could only muster 13 points off those 12 LSU turnovers, the lack of time with the ball really hurt LSU. Johnny Jones’ squad averaged .744 points per possession in the second half after averaging more than 1.2 points per trip in the first.
What’s next for LSU basketball?
LSU’s road trip continues into this weekend when the Tigers face off against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday. The game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.