How No. 12 LSU basketball fizzled late in loss to Arkansas Razorbacks

·4 min read

BATON ROUGE –

Coach Will Wade was kicking himself after No. 12 LSU basketball fell apart late against Arkansas on Saturday and lost 65-58at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

LSU, which beat nationally ranked Kentucky and nationally ranked Tennessee earlier this month, had its three-game SEC win streak snapped. Arkansas won for the second straight time after opening SEC play with losses at Mississippi State, to Vanderbilt and at Texas A&M.

Arkansas (12-5, 2-3 SEC) went up 58-56 on a JD Notae 3-pointer with 3:22 to go. But after LSU (15-2, 3-2) tied it on an Alex Fudge dunk, Jaylin Williams hit a 3 to put the Razorbacks ahead 61-58 with 1:12 left.

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LSU had a chance to tie it, but Mwani Wilkinson turned the ball over with 27 seconds remaining before Stanley Umude dunked on the other end with the rebound of a missed free throw.

"Look, Arkansas made a ton of plays down the stretch," Wade said. "Notae made some huge shots."

Arkansas closed on a 17-2 run as LSU, which had been up 56-48, blew an 8-point lead in the final seven minutes.

"We turned the ball over too much. We got out-rebounded. We missed some free throws," Wade said. "That’s gonna get you just about every time. We just weren’t as clean as we needed to be coming down the stretch.

"I probably should have used some of my timeouts to get (Darius) Days back in when they cut the lead to 1 (at 56-55). I should have used a timeout there. I’ll go back and look at all that. I should have helped our guys out a little bit more. But we just didn’t make plays we needed to down the stretch. We’ll get back after it and turn the page for a tough week on the road next week.”

Eric Gaines brings the ball upcourt for LSU against Arkansas on Saturday at the PMAC.
Eric Gaines brings the ball upcourt for LSU against Arkansas on Saturday at the PMAC.

LSU opens a stretch with two straight and 3-of-4 on the road when it visits Alabama on Wednesday (6 p.m., ESPN2) followed by a visit to Tennessee on Jan. 22 (5 p.m. CT, ESPN).

Notae hit two free throws for Arkansas after Devonte Davis appeared to lose a tooth with 35 seconds left in the first half, but an Eric Gaines free throw sent LSU into the break up 33-31 after an opening 20 minutes in which there four lead changes and the score was tied six times.

Fudge had nine points in the half, but no one from LSU had more than three rebounds at halftime as Arkansas won the opening-half battle of the boards 20-15.

Notae had a team-high 19 points for Arkansas, which was without coach Eric Musselman, who according to the Razorbacks had successful surgery Thursday to repair a full tendon tear and two partial tears in his left shoulder. Assistant Keith Smart served as interim coach.

Gaines had a team-high 14 for LSU, which seemed to lose its offensive rhythm down the stretch.

“I take the blame on that," Gaines said. "As a point guard I have to get my team set up and bring the ball up the court faster. I feel like I did not do that.”

LSU was playing its second straight games without usual starting point guard Xavier Pinson, who sprained his right ankle late in a win over Tennessee. Gaines, who had 15 points at Florida on Wednesday, made a second straight start in his place.

Wade said he did not know if Pinson would be available for the game Alabama.

"They did some things defensively that were very smart. They took some things away. They picked (Eric) Gaines up full court, which made it a lot tougher," Wade said of the Razorbacks when asked about LSU's play without Pinson. "We got into our offense a lot later than we typically do, so you got to give Arkansas some credit, they did a nice job.”

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: No. 12 LSU basketball loses to Arkansas; Devonte Davis loses tooth