Tiger Basketball Downs Arkansas in Saturday SEC Tilt, 95-74
Will Baker finished with a team-high 25 points.
BATON ROUGE – Arkansas scored the first points of the game and led for 1:39 before LSU went on a 10-0 run that was the start of a dominating 95-74 Southeastern Conference men’s basketball victory for the Tigers Saturday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers shot over 50 percent from the field (29-of-53, 54.7 percent) and from three-point range (12-of-23, 52.2%) and added 25-of-28 free throws (89.3%) to never led the Razorbacks get into the contest.
LSU is now 12-9 overall and 4-4 in the league, while Arkansas falls to 11-11 and 2-7 in SEC play.
LSU tied the game on a Jalen Reed layup and then Trey Hannibal, getting his first start of the season, hit a layup, Mike Williams III off an Arkansas turnover got a three-pointer and Will Baker, off another Razorback turnover, made a three to make it a 10-2 LSU lead with 15:25 to go in the first half.
It was the start of the good shooting from deep for the Tigers as Baker made 4-of-5 from distance and Williams 4-of-6 outside the arc.
The LSU lead reached double figures for good at 17-7 on a Jordan Wright free throw and the first half advantage reached 21 points before Arkansas scored the final six points to go to the break with LSU up, 45-30.
In that opening 20 minutes, LSU made 15-of-24 field goals (62.5%) and 7-of-12 from distance.
Out of the dressing room, LSU made sure no comeback was coming as Baker got a layup and a free throw, Reed put in a driving layup and got fouled for a free throw and Williams hit another of his three-pointers to give LSU a 9-0 run to push the LSU lead to 54-30 with 17:20 to play.
The lead reached as much as 28 in the final two minutes before the Tiger bench was cleared and Arkansas was able to get some points to cut it to the final margin.
The win tied the second-largest LSU margin of victory in the 78-game series history versus Arkansas. Also, LSU made double figure three-pointers for a school record fifth consecutive game.
Four Tigers were in double figures with Baker finishing with 25 points, his 11th career game of 20 points or more. Jalen Cook played a solid 21 minutes off the bench with 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting with three treys and 7-of-7 at the free throw line. Williams and Jordan Wright both finished with 13 points.
Wright, who also had six assists, kept alive his now 18-game double figure scoring streak as he scored his first 10 points all at the free throw line (making 10-of-11) before making a late three pointer.
Hannibal finished with six points, six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers as the Tigers only turned the ball over 11 times.
Arkansas had 12 turnovers but LSU capitalized with 19 points off turnovers.
The Razorbacks shot 43.6 percent for the game (24-of-55) and was 3-of-13 from distance (23.1%). Arkansas was 23-of-33 from the line.
Tramon Mark led Arkansas with 20 points, while Jalen Graham added 18 and Makhi Mitchell scored 10.
The Tigers are on the road in the midweek against Tennessee in Knoxville (6 p.m. CT) before returning home next Saturday for another 11 a.m. game against Alabama.
LSU vs. Arkansas
February 3, 2024
LSU Head Coach Matt McMahon
“Thrilled with our players’ performance today. I thought they were just terrific; a true team effort for 40 minutes. I thought on the defensive end, we were really locked in to the game plan and the things we needed to do. Then offensively, I thought it was just a really unselfish, disciplined performance. It’s a lot of fun to watch us play that way. Most of all, I’m really proud of our players for their response this week. The bye week didn’t go exactly as we had planned; we had some injury and illness early in the week that kind of changed up our schedule. But I thought our guys really competed throughout the week and found ways to get better, and then came out with an 11 a.m. start today with a tough, together performance to get us a big win here at home.”
On Jalen Cook and Trae Hannibal …
“I thought him (Jalen Cook) and Trae Hannibal at the point were terrific. Trae had four assists, no turnovers. I thought Jalen was just really dialed in offensively. He shot the ball really well, did a great job getting to the free-throw line and got his teammates involved. I thought a big key for us was we scored 29 baskets and 17 of them were assisted on. I think we were 17:8 assist-to-turnover, until the full-court press there down 30 late bothered us some. So, all in all, I thought it was terrific point guard play and because we played unselfishly and really shared the ball, you saw great looks for Mike Williams and Will Baker, and they stepped up and shot the ball really well.”
Forward Will Baker
On his start and feeling his shot right away…
“My teammates found me on a corner three. I got in a rhythm early and I definitely think that helped me. All credit to my teammates because they kept finding me when I was open. I just stepped in and shot it.”
On his three’s opening up the lane for attacking…
“Like (Jalen) Cook said, we have shooters so that allows us to space the floor. When you have threats like that it allows us to be able to drive and kick out to find more open looks. It just builds on itself. When one guy is a threat, he can drive and kick it to another shooter.”
Guard Jalen Cook
On being comfortable in the role that he was given and the effectiveness in the second half…
“I just wanted to come in and create a spark on both ends of the floor. I wanted to get all my teammates involved and I think I did a good job of that.”
On the ball movement in this game and how it feels when everything is clicking…
“We have a lot of talent on the team. We can spread it around. (Will) Baker can step out and shoot the three. We have a lot of three-point shooters. Mike Williams can shoot it. We have some shooters, so we just try space the floor out and attack.”
Arkansas Head Coach Eric Musselman
On what (Will) Baker was doing well and how tough it is to recover from that on the road…
“He did everything well. He made threes, posted up, beat us off the dribble, I think it was probably a career night for him. I do not have his cumulative stats for his career in front of me, but I would assume that it is as good of a game he has played in his career.”
On what got LSU off to the hot start, and how they will address it moving forward…
“It is defending the three and the dribble drive. We are not doing either. If we were, we would probably have a better record. It is our job to get players to improve. It is our job to get players to follow the game plan. We have not been good defending the three all year. You cannot compare teams of the past, but we are doing the same drills, but the execution come game time is just not there.”