Opening up SEC play on a sour note isn’t how any team wants to do, but for LSU (9-4, 0-1 SEC) on Wednesday night, it will be a big learning lesson going forward. The Tigers looked good for much of the second half, but the Kentucky Wildcats (12-2, 2-0 SEC) were able to get out of a pack PMAC with a 74-71 victory.
After a slow start by LSU, they made the Wildcats take notice, taking a 27-25 lead with an Aaron Epps jumper off of a steal from freshman Tremont Waters. The Tigers kept everything under control as they headed into the break with a five point lead thanks a big three-pointer from Aaron Epps.
“I thought in the first half we played really well.” Head coach Will Wade said after the game, “We should have been up by more at halftime. That’s where we lost the game.”
That lead evaporated early in the second half with another slow start from the Tigers. However, the defense was able to keep the game within reach for much of the second half. Epps wound up making it a one-point deficit with a solid putback off a missed three-pointer. Kentucky was able to keep them at bay though with a pair of free throws from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gave the Wildcats their second win in SEC play.
LSU will head over to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies (11-3, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday with tipoff set for 1:15 pm.
Three Point Play:
Slow Starts Remain Issue: After a decent non-conference slate, the Tigers will need to figure how to get off to hot starts. To start both halves, LSU went a combined 5-22. When you have that kind of slow start against this kind of team, it’ll be tough to come away with a win.
When you consider how tough the SEC looks to be, it’s going to be a long conference slate with starts like that.
Poor Shooting from Beyond: Shooting from three hasn’t been LSU’s strong suit, but it felt a little more forced in the loss, going 6-of-24 on the evening. It looks even more forced when you compare it to the Wildcats from downtown as they made one less three-pointer, but shooting only 12 three-pointers on the night.
The Tigers need to focus in on attacking the paint more often to come away with some wins as they get further into SEC play.
Reath’s Solid Performance Helps LSU Keep it Close: Duop Reath has been one of the better players all season long alongside Tremont Waters and Wednesday was no different with 24 points, 11 boards, two assists, two blocks, and one steal.
If he can continue having these consistent performances, LSU can be in a lot of these ballgames in conference play.