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LSU Basketball Gets 9th SEC Win, Downing Missouri, 84-80

Trae Hannibal led LSU with a career high 24 points.

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LSU Basketball Gets 9th SEC Win, Downing Missouri, 84-80

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to open up a 21-point advantage with 4:40 to play and then held on in the final minutes to win the regular season finale, 84-80, Saturday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers finished the regular season at 9-9 in the SEC, a seven-game improvement from a year ago, and finished in a tie for seventh place in the 14-team league with Texas A&M. The Tigers and Aggies split their two games in the season, but A&M claims the top spot because their win over No. 1 seed Tennessee.

LSU will be the eighth seed in the SEC Tournament which begins on Wednesday night at Bridgestone in Nashville. The Tigers will play the opening game of the second round at noon on Thursday against the ninth seed, Mississippi State.

LSU finishes the regular season at 17-14, guaranteeing a winning record no matter what happens in the remainder of the campaign.

It was the last regular season home game for fifth senior Trae Hannibal, fourth-year senior Mwani Wilkinson and graduate transfers Hunter Dean, Jordan Wright and Will Baker.

Trae Hannibal had a career high 24 points to go with five rebounds and five assists, hitting 7-of-10 field goals and 10-of-14 free throw. Tyrell Ward hit three-pointers for 14 points and Hunter Dean made 5-of-7 field goals, including a trey and a free throw to finish with 12 points, four assists and no turnovers.

Jordan Wright and Mike Williams III each had 10 points in the contest.

Sean East II had 26 points to lead Missouri, while Noah Carter scored 18 and Tamar Bates 13.

The LSU Tigers trailed 35-29 at the half after Missouri built an eight-point lead in the final two minutes of the half. LSU still trailed by seven, 45-38, with 15:26 to play before the game turned completely around.

Dean hit a three and after a turnover, Williams made a layup to cut the margin for Missouri to two, 45-43. Williams was fouled and made a free throw to make it 45-44, Missouri. Dean blocked Missouri’s next offensive field goal attempt and that led to a Hannibal layup that gave LSU the lead for good at 46-45 with 14:04 to play.

Missouri turned the ball over again and Williams hit a three-ball to up the LSU lead to four, 49-45. That was followed by a three-point bucket and foul shot by Dean to give LSU a 52-45 advantage on a 14-0 Tiger run.

Between the point in the game when LSU was down 45-38 with 15:26 to play and the point LSU built a 21-points lead at 74-53 with 4:40 to go in the game, LSU outscored Missouri, 36-8.

But then LSU lost its mojo down the stretch and Missouri slowly began to cut into the LSU lead, getting it down under double figures in an excruciatingly long last 90 seconds at 76-67 with 58 seconds to play.

LSU still led by nine after two Wright free throws, 80-71, with 33 seconds to go. But a free throw and an offensive rebound bucket cut the game to six at 80-74 with 24 seconds left. The teams traded free throws to keep the game at six with 11 seconds to play.

LSU turned the ball over and Carter made a three-pointer to make the LSU lead just 81-78 with six seconds left. Hannibal was fouled on the inbounds and made two free throws to make it 83-78. LSU committed a foul on the other end and Missouri made the free throws to make it 83-80, LSU with still four seconds left.

Missouri again fouled Hannibal on the inbounds and he made the second of two free throws for the final score of the game.

LSU shot 45.6 percent for the game (26-of-57), including 16-of-32 in the second half. LSU was just 6-of-22 from distance (27.3 percent) and 26-of-37 for 70.3 percent. After shooting 53.6 percent in the opening half, Missouri finished at 29-of-61 for 47.5 percent with nine made threes and 13-of-16 at the line.

LSU out rebounded Missouri, 37-28.


LSU Head Coach Matt McMahon
“Really proud of our players for the win. We’re always going to celebrate winning. Obviously, there’s some lessons to be learned there the last three minutes, but we won’t let that take away from the joy of winning tonight on senior night. Credit to Missouri for their fight. They’ve been in a lot of games down to the final buzzer. I think 11 of their SEC losses were by one, two, or three possessions. And as you saw tonight, they fought to the final buzzer and great respect for them. Coach Dennis Gates is a big time coach and has handled adversity in a really first-class manner this way.

“But I’m proud of our players. I’m proud of our program. I know this, I didn’t come to LSU to celebrate 9-9, but I think sometimes we all think success is just this easy climb, and you get to where you want to go on a smooth travel plan. Twenty-three months ago, LSU didn’t have a basketball program. There was no coaching staff in place, there were no players, no academics, there was no program, 23 months ago. And it’s been a gradual process, but I’m proud of the players that have joined us on the journey, on the steps that we’ve made. I think it is an accomplishment, I think of the power five schools, the second biggest jump in win totals in league play behind South Carolina and what Coach Lamont Paris has done this year, and I’m really proud of what these players have invested to take some steps forward for the program, and now we’ll reset and start getting prepared for the SEC Tournament.”

LSU Guard Trae Hannibal
On picking up momentum in the second half…
“They were getting second-chance opportunities. They got open shots. We weren’t communicating. I think it got to the point where we knew we had to lock in. Everyone got on the same page that’s all that happened.”

On Mike Williams’ growth…
“That just goes to show his maturity. Mike’s maturity is on a different level and for him to come off the bench and play his role and do what he does, we’ll take that every night. The lineup could change at any moment, everybody gotta be ready for their moment and when their number’s called. Every time his number’s called, you know he’s gonna give you something on offense or on defense. So we applaud him for that, especially being a freshman.”

LSU Forward Hunter Dean
On Mike Williams’ growth…
“He is also really smart for a freshman guard. I think any time I’ve told him something he has taken it and run with it and he’s never turned me down when I try to tell him something or anyone tries to tell him something for that matter.”

On the LSU culture…
“It’s been straight hard work since being here for the summer and every day I had to go up against Will (Baker) and he’s not easy to stop all the time. Nothing here is earned, you just have to work like I said from day one.”

Mizzou Head Coach Dennis Gates Quotes

On the overall game…
“Well, I am definitely proud of our guys and staff for coming out for Senior Day at LSU. We had a great first half and I thought our guys executed in detail everything from top to bottom. I thought in the second half, we did not get them into a half-court defensive situation in the first five to seven minutes, and it was easy basketball foul shots they were able to get. On their run, I believe there was a 14-0 run or something like that. We got the shots that we wanted; we have to come away with the makes. Sean (East) was the only one in that first 10 minutes to score a field goal and I thought our guys had opportunities from Nick Honor to Noah Carter to (Tamar) Bates. For everyone else who played and missed a field goal, the ball was just not going in for us. Overall, I think our guys did a great job fighting back in the second half trying to make it an interesting game. We cut it down to one possession and that just says that our guys are fighting and trying their very best in situational. We almost gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game.”

On the difference in the second half…
“I thought our missed shots allowed them to get out quickly, and then they recovered some second-chance points as well. I thought our guys just did not get back in transition fast enough and when we did, we fouled. They ended up shooting 37 free throws and we gave up 25 free throws in the second half. Some of that was because we were trying to foul them at the end. But ultimately, we were not able to get to and execute on that foul line in the first. But in the second half, we did; we got to the foul line 15 times in the second half, which I thought was awesome. But in that first half, we were not able to extend that lead. So sometimes, you have to be able to keep these guys out of their flow and the ball was going in instead. In the second half, we were just trying to get stops and we did not do our job of getting them at half-court.”