LSU basketball rallies without top scorers to beat Texas A&M

Jan 26, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers forward Tari Eason (13) brings the ball up court against Texas A&M Aggies forward Henry Coleman III (15) during the first half at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

BATON ROUGE, La. - No. 18 LSU basketball squeaked by Texas A&M in a gutsy 70-64 win on Wednesday at Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

LSU (16-4, 4-4 SEC) went on a 9-0 run in the final 1:18 as sophomore forward Mwani Wilkinson hit a big 3-pointer to tie the game and start the run. LSU finished the game with six free throws to finish out the run.

“We all are good free-throw shooters," LSU sophomore guard Eric Gaines said. "Coach (Will Wade) always tells us to take our time, take a deep breath and knock them in. That’s what we did at the end.”

Texas A&M (15-5, 4-3 ) had a lead with under two minutes to play, but the Aggies went scoreless on their final three possessions, missing a layup and a trio of threes.

By the end of the game, LSU was without its top three scorers, as forward Tari Eason left with an injury in the second half. Point guard Xavier Pinson and forward Darius Days were already unavailable.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight," LSU freshman guard Brandon Murray said. "They (Texas A&M) played really hard and aggressive, but we ended up doing what we had to do. Like Eric said, it’s always about the next man up.”

LSU BASKETBALL HIGHLIGHTS: LSU men's basketball vs. Texas A&M video highlights, score

PINSON AND DAYS OUT: LSU basketball top scorers Darius Days and Xavier Pinson not in starting lineup vs. Texas A&M

Murray led the way for LSU, scoring 10 points at halftime and finishing with 21 points on 6 of 14 shooting. Eason, LSU's leading scorer, added 14 points and got to the free-throw line often, hitting on 8 of 9 attempts.

But it was an ugly affair from beginning to end as the teams combined to turn over the ball 36 times and commit 47 fouls.

"We still have a lot of growth to go, so we have to play consistently and play back-to-back, but I was very proud of those guys," Wade said.

LSU's defense, which according to KenPom had the best adjusted efficiency rating in the country heading into Wednesday's game, was mostly stellar again.

As it had consistently all season, LSU used its length and athleticism on defense to limit the Aggies' opportunities in the paint and force tough contested looks from the perimeter. A&M shot just 39% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.

The Tigers' offense struggled to find a rhythm in the first half, putting up just 34 points in 28 possessions. LSU shot a pedestrian 40% from the field and squandered some opportunities at the free-throw line, making just 11 of 19 attempts despite making their free throws early.

A key factor in LSU's struggles on offense was not having Days and Pinson.

Days re-injured his ankle last Saturday at Tennessee after originally sustaining the injury last Wednesday against Alabama. Pinson has been out with a sprained knee since Jan. 9, also getting hurt against Tennessee.

LSU was already a subpar shooting team without Pinson and Days in the lineup. And nobody else on the Tigers possesses the playmaking skillset Pinson brings to the table.

Up next

The Tigers head to Fort Worth to take on TCU on Saturday (11 a.m., ESPN2).

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: With top scorers out, LSU basketball rallies past Texas A&M

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting