The LSU Tigers defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 72-67 in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville on Wednesday night. The win was only third against an SEC foe this season for LSU.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
For the first four minutes of the game, the two teams went back and forth but that changed with a fast break dunk by Cam Hayes with 15:57 left in the opening half. That gave LSU a 8-7 lead and one they maintained for the rest of the first half.
After Trae Hannibal’s layup with 9:20 left in the half, LSU held a six-point advantage.
Neither team would make a bucket in the next two-plus minutes until LSU’s Shawn Phillips Jr.’s second-chance jumper. A few minutes later, the Tigers saw their lead ballon to double-digits as KJ Williams made two free throws. LSU increased its lead to a dozen points as Tyrell Ward made a jumper with 1:16 left.
Georgia’s Kario Oquendo made two free throws which cut it down to 10 points but Ward made a dunk shortly before half for LSU.
At the break, LSU led 42-30.
Georgia started off the second half with a 8-4 run but LSU again answered and pushed it back to double digts with a Williams layup.
Georgia fought right back and went on a 9-2 run capped by second-chance layup from Braelen Bridges. With 11:27 left in the second half, LSU’s lead had dwindled to 50-47.
The Tigers managed to push the lead back up to five twice in the next few minutes but the Bulldogs kept fighting back.
After LSU’s Hannibal made a jumper in the paint to make it a three-point lead, Georgia’s Jabri Abdur-Rahim drained a three-pointer to tie the game and the the Bulldogs took the lead after making a pair of free throws.
After the two teams traded a pair of free throws, LSU reclaimed the lead with a Adam Miller three-pointer and then a free throw. The Tigers pushed the lead to four points with Williams’ free throws.
Georgia’s Terry Roberts hit a three-pointer which sparked a 6-2 run which tied the game 67-67 with 1:33 left on the clock. LSU retook the lead with a Shawn Phillips Jr. layup.
The Tigers sealed the win with a Williams’ jumper and a Hannibal free throw.
BIG NUMBER: 36
LSU won the game by winning the battle down low as the Tigers scored 36 points in the paint while the Bulldogs recorded 26 points in the paint.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: KJ WILLIAMS & TRAE HANNIBAL
Williams led the Tigers with 18 points, including going 8-for-8 at the free throw line, while also pulling down 8 rebounds. Hannibal added 14 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
UP NEXT: LSU (14-18, 3-16) will take on Vanderbilt in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday. Tip is set for 8 p.m. and can be heard live on THE GAME 103.7 Lafayette and 104.1 Lake Charles.