BATON ROUGE – The LSU basketball team was unable to get anything going in the first 20 minutes, dropping a 74-62 decision to Texas A&M Saturday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU falls below .500 for the first time in the season at 12-13 and drops to 1-11 in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M, with its second win over LSU, runs its record to 10-2 in the league in second place and 18-7 overall.
Sophomore Adam Miller (18) and freshman Tyrell Ward (15) combined for 33 of LSU’s 62 points as LSU played maybe their best 20 minutes in the second half, making 16-of-30 shots (53.3%) and 7-of-15 at the arc (46.7%).
Texas A&M dominated the first 20 minutes jumping out to a 10-2 lead and then 17-2 in the first nine minutes as LSU could not put together buckets, shooting just 6-of-23 (26.1%) and 3-of-14 from the arc, while A&M was 12-of-23 in the first half (52.2%) and 6-of-9 from the arc (66.7%). A&M was 11-of-13 at the free throw line as well.
A&M led by as much as 29 in the first half and by 41-17 at the halftime intermission.
LSU came out with a new fire in the second half, however, and slowly tried to whittle away at the A&M advantage, cutting the game to 16 points 2:30 in and to 12 on a Miller three-pointer, 51-39, with 12:08 to play.
Even though the Tigers could not keep A&M from getting points, the Tigers continued to battle and Miller’s three-pointer with 4:08 to play put LSU within eight at 61-53. That would be the first of four times the Tigers cut the game to eight in the final minutes before A&M pushed it out to the final 12-point deficit.
LSU finished the game at 41.5 percent (22-of-53) and 10-of-29 from the arc (34.5%). A&M finished the game at 20-of-42 (47.6%) with eight treys and 26-of-32 at the free throw line.
LSU out rebounded A&M, 30-12, and after giving up 42 points in the paint in the first meeting, had a 22-18 advantage on the Aggies in this game.
Wade Taylor IV had 23 points to lead Texas A&M, while Dexter Dennis had 13 and Tyrece Radford 12.
LSU must turn around quickly as they leave Monday for a Tuesday 7:30 p.m. game in Athens against the University of Georgia.
LSU Head Coach Matt McMahon
“Great win for Texas A&M. I have a lot of respect for how they have handled their season. I know they struggled a little bit in early November but man, they just embody everything you want your team to be. They play their tail off, they are physical and tough, they are connected. They play for each other. Every player on their team is a star in their role and you just have a lot of respect for that. In the first half, obviously it’s incredibly disappointing. I just don’t understand not coming out ready to play. I thought we missed some easy ones there early around the basket. We missed a layup, we missed a couple of threes and we let that dictate our defensive energy, intensity and attention to detail. They just carved us up there. Obviously, I’m not going to sit here and talk about the second half, that’s how you should play. I thought our guys came out and played with a lot of passion, energy and toughness. It was probably our most efficient offensive half of SEC play. It’s going to be hard to win when you don’t give yourself a chance there in the first half.”
On the main differences between the first and second half…
“Energy, effort, toughness, maybe some pride too. All those things that are the price of admission. What a privilege it is to put the jersey on, coach here. You have got to put everything you have into it.”
On the play of Tyrell Ward, Shawn Phillips Jr. and Jalen Reed…
“I’ve been really pleased with their progression. I thought Tyrell (Ward) played extremely hard, made a few mistakes on the defensive end but that is going to happen. I’m an easy coach to play for. You just play your tail off and be about the team and we will live with the mistakes and coach and teach them to get better. I think he did some good things for us tonight and has really stepped forward there. Shawn Phillips, I love his passion. He really cares. It means a lot to him. He is a lot of growing and learning to do, but I know it means a lot to him. Really cares. When you have a guy there at seven feet with his length, he can move. He will just keep getting better and better. I thought Jalen (Reed) came in, gets five rebounds, had a really nice drive and finish and showed some emotion. I think those three continue to get better every time out.”
LSU Guard Adam Miller
On the energy exerted in the second half …
“A lot of energy, but it is not like we were here in the first half, so that is how you are supposed to feel after a game. You should feel wiped out. We didn’t play 40 minutes, we played 20 minutes. If we would have played 40 minutes, we probably would have been more tired than this. We exerted a lot more energy than we did in the first half, not just on the court, but with our communication, picking each other up. The intangibles in the game were picked up in the second half. I think we won the second half with points. It is kind of like a cycle now that we have to break. We just have to lead by example, keep pushing each other. It is kind of hard, I feel like as a team, we come here every day. If you come here and see our practices, we practice hard every day. It is just the little things. We just have to put it together. I feel like it is on the players, not on the coaching staff or anything. The players just chose to play 20 minutes today, myself also.”
On the freshmen’s growth …
“I think the upperclassmen have to lead, show the freshmen class and the younger guys how things are supposed to be done. I feel like we have to continue to grow in that area, to continue to get these guys ready. I feel like Tyrell (Ward) did a great job. Ever since he got here, he puts in extra work. I am not surprised for him to take advantage of the opportunity. We have some hard-working freshmen. Shawn Phillips, he plays his heart out… he was the guy that got us going in the second half. He came in here, all around the locker room. The attitude he put on, he showed us that we have a guy like that who wants to play. As upperclassmen, he is pouring his heart out to us and it ignited our fire for us in the second half. The freshmen class, like Jalen Reed, I feel like they take advantage of their opportunities, and they are going to keep growing. We just have to keep leading them, believing them.”
LSU Forward Tyrell Ward
On his personal growth…
“I would just say I was waiting for my opportunity and not getting impatient because if I were to rush my opportunity to happen, it would not happen this way. Just staying consistent with my habits, like working, being the first one out for every game, being first and last for every practice. The little things like that will carry over, no matter what.”
On his offensive aggressiveness …
“I feel like I always have been capable of doing it, just like I said before, just waiting on my opportunity and not forcing anything, taking my defense good.”
Texas A&M Coach Buzz Williams
On the end of the first half…
“I think their [LSU] sixth basket was at the buzzer on three over there away from us, but there was a long time that they were at one basket. Then they were at two baskets. Then I think at the fourth media timeout, they were at four baskets and there was a period of time that the two free throws were their points along with one basket. We were locked into what we were doing. We knew what they were doing and even as they began to make adjustments to their plan, our guys were sensing it. We needed to lock in and do this.”