BATON ROUGE – Missouri rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to score an 81-76 win over LSU Wednesday night in the regular season finale for the Tigers at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Turnover issues and fast break points off turnovers spoiled what was one of the most amazing 20 minutes of the season for the LSU basketball team off a Senior Night tribute ceremony for senior Parker Edwards and super senior KJ Williams.
In fact, Coach Matt McMahon surprised Edwards with the start and his first action since playing a minute in the opening game of the season. And what a start it was.
LSU won the jump ball and on the first possession, Edwards found himself with the ball and wide open for three and he made it. After Missouri missed a three, the Tigers came back down and Edwards found another chance to shoot a three, and he made it.
Missouri missed another three-pointer and this time after KJ Williams missed a shot, Derek Fountain put the rebound in to give LSU an 8-0 lead. That would be LSU’s only two-point basket of the first 20 minutes.
But LSU was making three-after-three in the first half to the tune of 11-of-15 and the Tigers were up 47-34 at the intermission.
Missouri began to cut the lead down at the start of the second half outscoring LSU, 11-2, to cut the LSU lead to 49-45. LSU got the lead back to eight at 57-49 and 59-51, but Missouri tied the game at 59-59 and 61-61.
LSU continued to do enough to keep the lead until the final three minutes when with LSU up, 74-72, Noah Carter tied the game at 74-74 with 2:21 to play. LSU missed a three-pointer and D’Moi Hodge hit a three for Missouri to give the visiting Tigers a 77-74 lead with 1:37 to go.
LSU missed two shots on the possession and turned the ball over in the final minute and Missouri was able to make free throws to seal the game.
The unfortunate turnover bug hit LSU in the second half as 10 turnovers led to a 13-0 advantage in points off turnovers for Missouri and they also had a 16-0 advantage in fast break points.
The loss dampened an outstanding senior night performance by super senior KJ Williams, who had 24 points and 14 rebounds for his eight double double of the season. Williams hit 6-of-12 shots, including four from distance and 8-of-8 at the free throw line.
Adam Miller had five treys in scoring 17 points, while Jalen Reed had 11 points.
Hodge had 23 points with five treys, while DeAndre Gholston had 20 points and 13 for Noah Carter.
LSU shot 42.9 percent for the game 21-of-49 with 14-of-28 from distance. Again, LSU was strong from the line making 20-of-22. Missouri shot 51.5 percent in the second half to finish at 46.0 percent (29-of-63) with 10-of-30 from distances and a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line.
LSU out rebounded Missouri, 33-29.
LSU concludes the regular season on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT at Florida.
LSU Head Coach Matt McMahon
“I thought our guys really competed tonight. Parker Edwards got us off to a really special start there with his two threes and his start on Senior Night. I thought that carried over to our team. I think we competed the way we need to play every single night. Credit to Missouri, they stayed the course there when we built a lead in the first half. I think we had one two-point field goal there, everything else was done beyond the arc and it was going to be hard to continue to shoot at a 73% clip from behind the arc. Unfortunately, in the second half, some of the same problem that have bother us all year. A lot of turnovers, unforced turnovers at times. KJ (Williams) with another monster game, they (Missouri) put two and three on him at a time, but we were trying to get it to him on every trip. Unable to do so there late in the game. A couple of key possessions I thought, we got a stop with about two minutes to go up by two, they shot an airball three, we were unable to come up with the rebound and they (Missouri) got a putback there. We take a bad shot late. We were unable to get anything going there and then (D’Moi) Hodge buries a huge three. Credit to Missouri. They put a lot of pressure on you defensively. All one through five can beat you off the dribble and get to the rim and make plays at the basket. If you go double, they can all shoot it from three. Obviously disappointed in the result tonight.”
On the second half…
“Just disappointing, you come out to start the second half and we leave the ball there and give up an easy 15-footer and the come down and turn it over to get it back to single digits. I think they (Missouri) finally tied it right around 59 and we did mount a response there. We were able to build the lead again but just couldn’t get enough stops. Then, just unfortunate, we had back-to-back possessions where we didn’t even get a shot at the goal because turned the ball over. That’s poor execution there.”
On LSU’s turnovers…
“It’s tough. We haven’t shot the ball, you know the numbers, we haven’t shot it every well at all this season. We are 14-of-28 from three tonight. I did think we left some opportunities on the scoreboard around the rim. I think we were 7-of-21 from two-point range, which isn’t good enough. But the turnovers are just brutal. It’s just brutal, there’s no other way around it. In games we’ve had opportunities to win this year we took care of the basketball. You look at 16 turnovers leads to 20 points for Missouri. With the way they score the ball, they certainly don’t need you helping them out by giving them easy points. They do a good job defensively. I thought they really tightened their defense up down the stretch. They were going to key in on taking KJ away and we were unable to make plays off the bounce at that point when they were switching everything out.”
Missouri Coach Dennis Gates
“It was senior day here at LSU and they came out with an emotional first half. Eleven of their twelve field goals were from three. We were able, as a team, to not get discouraged. The game was won at halftime with the look in our guys faces, the challenges they set for each other, but also with their communication. I’m proud of their communication in that moment. We knew we would have to come out and score 50 points. We were three short of that. We only scored 47 to be able to come away with the win. I’m proud of D’Moi Hodge. I’m proud of DeAndre Gholston. Sean East impacted the game in a great way with his six assists and his pass to D’Moi. I think that was the go ahead, or tie breaking, three pointer. It took vision but also confidence in his teammates. We didn’t get to the free throw line often, but we were thirteen for thirteen. We shot 100 % which is great. We were down 36 minutes of this game. We were able to edge out a victory. This is magical; it’s March, it’s madness all in the same breath. Happy first of the month.”
On what the defense did to slow down LSU’s shooting in the second half…
“I think our guys were able to play our style and not get bothered. We knew the averages, to be able to shoot 75 % from three is the exact same thing that happened in Columbia when we started the game. They basically did their part but, I don’t think I have ever been in a game where 11-for-12 field goals, and 12-for 12 from the free throw line, happened in one half. They just did a good job. Our ball players, our guys, didn’t budge. They knew the game that we were playing, and they stuck to it.”