LSU is a basketball team that is on the outside looking in, but with a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. In my preview, I stated that the Tigers had a chance to play spoiler. I was thinking the Mizzou Tigers. Instead, following the 80-71 final on Tuesday night, it was LSU that actually spoiled their chances.
LSU proved they are not NCAA Tournament ready by letting a 22-point halftime lead get down to three. When those Tigers decided to play defense again, Missouri had no chance. There was nothing impressive about Mizzou’s near comeback. This was a typicall 2015-16 road game.
The start, outside of the Kentucky game, may have been the worst one of the road this season. The Tigers turned the ball over 13 times in the first half and had no answer for slowing down LSU, as they jumped out to a 46-24 halftime lead.
Then LSU quit playing. That’s what will cost them when considerations go out for at-large bids. They had just racked up a huge lead, were still up by 11 with under ten to play and they took their foot off the gas.
Mizzou kept chucking up three pointers and they started falling. After starting the game from 2-for-11 from beyond the arc, they hit 6-of-12, including 3-of-5 from Kevin Puryear. If the Tigers need to rely on Puryear getting hot from the outside, that’s not a formula for consistent winning. K.J. Walton’s three made it 60-51 with under ten minutes to play and then another with just under five to play to make it 65-62, but from there, LSU’s top freshman, Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney finished out the scoring. The two players I said Mizzou had to keep an eye on.
Obviously, we knew about Simmons. He had 22 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, but also turned the ball over six times. Blakeney was named the Freshman of the Week in the SEC coming off a 32-point performance against Florida. He scored 18 including five points in the final five minutes which two clutch shots to help kill Mizzou’s rally. Simmons was 10-of-11 at the line hitting his free throws late.
Terrence Phillips, Puryear and Ryan Rosburg scored 13 points and Walton had 11 points, matching his season-high.
The Tigers try to avoid a five-game end of the season losing streak when they wrap up at Mizzou Arena against Florida on Saturday.