COLUMBIA, Missouri – The LSU basketball team had its best and longest stretch of sustained offense Wednesday night, but couldn’t stop a first-half barrage of three-pointers in an 87-77 loss to Missouri at Mizzou Arena.
The Tigers had six players in double figures with two double doubles as LSU made 11 three-pointers and had opportunities in the second half to cut a quickly established double digit lead by Mizzou down to single digits inside the final eight minutes.
“The way they (Missouri) play with their pressure and their switching and denial defense makes it difficult just to come down and run sets and execute in the half court. So, what ends up happening is you have to go by that pressure and make plays,” said head coach Matt McMahon. “I thought we were able to do that with success at times. You see the balance in the scoring, I thought we were able to get good looks throughout the game. Unfortunately, when you go on the road and give up 87, you are going to have to be a lot more efficient there on some of those opportunities we had on the offensive end.”
KJ Williams had his sixth double double as he led LSU with 15 points and 11 rebounds, making 6-of-10 from the field and one three pointer while Derek Fountain recorded his third double double of the season, scoring 11 points with 11 rebounds.
Juice Hill, in his longest stint since returning back to the team (35 minutes), had 13 points and four assists. Also, at 11 points for LSU was Adam Miller and Trae Hannibal. Hannibal also had five assists.
Kobe Brown hit 10-of-11 shots for Missouri, including 5-of-6 treys to tally 26 points with eight rebounds and five assists. Noah Carter and DeAndre Gholston had 14 points each and Isiaih Mosley had 12 points.
Missouri hit 11 first-half three-pointers, the most they had recorded in 10 seasons in opening up an 18-point advantage in the first 20 minutes. Mizzou hit 11-of-23 three-point attempts and was 6-of-9 inside the arc to finish the first half 17-of-32 from the field and up 48-35 at intermission.
“Yeah, that was the ballgame right there. You look at the first 12 minutes we were unable to defend the three-point line at all, whether it was man, zone or switching we just couldn’t get the job done. You look at their two front court guys at the four and five position with (Noah) Carter and (Kobe) Brown, they go 8-of-12 from three with the majority of that done in the first half,” said McMahon. “Really put us in a position where we were trying to fight and claw to get back in the game. I thought we had some opportunities there. From the eight-minute mark to the four-minute mark, we had a lot of open looks and some opportunities in transition that we were not able to convert and get that lead back down to six or seven.”
LSU began in the second half to attack over the Missouri press and drive to the goal and cut the margin to 11 twice – the first at the 7:34 mark with possession of the ball after a Missouri inbounds turnover. LSU was unable to close the game after missing two three-point attempts on the next possession.
The Tigers would again get the game back to 11, 79-68, with 6:04 to play and after blocking a field goal attempt by Missouri, LSU missed again from distance which would have cut the game to single digits.
A three-pointer by Miller with 16 seconds left got LSU back as close as it had been since early in the contest.
LSU out rebounded Missouri, 38-32, with an impressive 15-5 advantage on the offensive glass which resulted in an 18-7 advantage in second chance points.
LSU turned the ball over 12 times to Missouri’s 10 but the points off turnovers difference, which had plagued LSU in January SEC games, was just three, 17-14.
It marked the first game LSU had more than four players in double figures and the most balanced offensive showing of the year.
LSU returns to Baton Rouge and the Maravich Center to host nationally-ranked Alabama on Saturday at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at LSUTix.net.