LSU Basketball Blown Away in Second Half as Tigers Lose 83-75 at No. 20 Arkansas
It was a tale of two halves for LSU basketball Saturday in Fayetteville. For the first 20 minutes, it appeared that the Tigers had arrived with more effort and intensity to take Arkansas to the final buzzer. But a demoralizing second half led to an underwhelming end as the Tigers fell to the No. 20 Razorbacks 83-75.
At the end of 20 minutes, it wasn't clicking for either team offensively but the purple and gold were putting up a fight by dominating the glass and controlling the paint. Freshman guard Cam Thomas was getting to the rim and putting the team on his back as many of LSU's stars struggled with foul trouble and inconsistent shot making.
The freshman was able to finish with 25 points on 58% shooting but the rest of the team would fail in comparison on both ends of the floor.
When the second half rolled around, it was like a light switched on offense for Arkansas and LSU failed to respond. The Razorbacks started an absurd 14-of-20 from the field and outscored the Tigers 51-38 in the second half.
"We missed some open looks, we had some good looks. We didn't finish in the paint. They were able to clog down in the paint a little bit," Will Wade said. "They took away some our transition stuff we got in the first half. Really, a lot of it was we had to make some of the plays that were there."
At one point, Arkansas led by as many as 21 points in the second half by not only completing dominating the paint but by getting to the free throw line and outscoring LSU 23 to six at the charity stripe for the contest.
"Second half, we just didn't make enough shots to allow us to set our defense or do anything. We had to play a lot more man and when you play man, Arkansas gets in rhythm calling all their plays and getting their guys going," Wade said. "They get to drive it downhill and get to the free throw line like they did. Makes it a lot more challenging for us, but we've got to be able to set our defense."
Four of Arkansas' starters scored at least 15 points in the game while LSU's "Big Four" struggled as a whole. Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford struggled with their scoring around the rim and Darius Days was nowhere to be found.
It's rung true all season long but the simple fact is that when Days plays well, the Tigers are usually successfull. On Saturday, the junior forward was in constant foul trouble and went an abysmal 0-for-7 from the field and didn't score a point.
"We're a lot better team when he's making shots. When he didn't make shots, they were able to congest the lane a little bit. Able to block a bunch of shots and stay in," Wade said. That's what happened in the second half."
Add on the fact that LSU's rebounding numbers plummeted because of the strong Arkansas scoring and it just led to one of the worst halves the team has played all season. LSU would close the game on an 15-5 run to make the second half look not so lopsided as it really was.
Now losers of two straight, Will Wade's group must win it's final two games of the season to secure a double bye in the SEC tournament and improve it's NCAA tournament standing.
The Tigers next attempt will come during the final home game of the regular season when they host Vanderbilt in the PMAC at 7:30 p.m.
"You saw us at our best, you saw us at our worst for a second half. We've got to get back to work," Wade said. "We've got a quick turnaround on Tuesday against Vanderbilt, who's been playing really, really well so we've got a lot of things we've got to get going between now and Tuesday and we've got to put all our effort into that."