LSU Basketball Falls to No. 6 Tennessee in Knoxville, 88-68
Will Baker had a team-high 16 points for the Tigers.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – The LSU men’s basketball team found itself in a deep hole in the first half and then made a run to cut it to single digits before falling 88-68 to No. 6 Tennessee Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center.
The Tigers fall to 12-10 and 4-5 in the league while Tennessee remained in the hunt for the league lead at 17-5 and 7-2 overall.
Tennessee scored the first 13 points of the game and scored 50 first half points with the Vols shooting 18-of-31 for 58.1 percent and 9-of-14 from distance for 64.3 percent in building a 50-27 halftime advantage.
LSU committed 8 first-half turnovers that Tennessee turned into a 14-2 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Tigers, playing without point guard Jalen Cook who was out because of a hamstring issue since the Arkansas game last Saturday. But LSU, like the game at Auburn last month, went on a 17-2 run as LSU was able to close the game to single digits, at 72-64, with 4:39 to play in the game.
But LSU was unable to sustain the game down the stretch and the Volunteers were able to move the game back out to the 20-point final margin.
LSU got another strong double figure effort by Will Baker who played 36 minutes and scored 16 points with eight rebounds. Derek Fountain had 11 points and seven boards. Trae Hannibal, who had to play the majority of the minutes at point guard (31 minutes) had eight points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Dalton Knecht led Tennessee with 27 points, while Jordan Gainey had 18, Zakai Zeigler 17 and Jonas Aidoo 10.
LSU outrebounded Tennessee, 40-26, and 18-5 on the offensive boards. LSU had a 20-10 advantage in second chance points.
LSU finished the game at 41.4 percent shooting (24-of-58) with six treys and 14-of-22 at the line (63.6%). LSU finished at 55.4 percent (31-of-56) with 11 three-pointers and 15-of-20 at the line.
The Tigers are back at home on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. against the University of Alabama. Tickets are available at LSUTix.net.
Postgame Quotes via the LSU Radio Network
LSU Head Coach Matt McMahon
On cutting the deficit to eight and showing effort in the second half…
“I was proud of that ten-minute stretch there in the second half where we really did a good job taking care of the basketball. We got good shots, guys stepped up and knocked them down. That enabled us to set our defense and make it more of a half-court game as we would have liked for it to have been. And we were able to get it back down to eight. But you know, the first half you’re on your heels because of poor offense, poor shot selection there early and turnovers. Now you’re in transition, one of the top five transition teams in America and credit to them, they (Tennessee) stepped up and knocked down open threes there in the first half, got off to a great start, and we were playing from behind the entire evening.”
On the effort of Trae Hannibal and Mwani Wilkinson …
“Yeah, I really respect their effort. I thought they really battled through injuries and illness, obviously that is part of it. Hunter Dean had been out since Saturday’s win. He got ill and hadn’t practiced this week. He tried to give it a go but couldn’t do it. Jalen Cook had a sore hamstring and he couldn’t give it a go. So we have what we have. I thought the guys really fought and competed there in the second half to try to get back and make it a game. You know, I think the formula continues to be pretty consistent for us. You saw it Saturday against Arkansas from an offensive standpoint. Taking care of the ball, doing a good job executing and moving the basketball. That’s how we were able to get the lead back down to eight, kind of resorted back to some of the over-dribbling and forcing there in the last three minutes and we weren’t able to stretch it out there.”