Crunch-time offense an issue for Tigers
LSU went the final 3 minutes, 22 seconds of Saturday's game against Mississippi State without scoring. Too bad. The Tigers, blown out in four straight SEC games earlier this year, needed only two more points to win.
As it happened, Mississippi State escaped with a 58-57 victory, and the Tigers lost their second straight game decided at crunch time.
Does it beat getting blown out? Probably so. But it hasn't stopped LSU (10-13) from dropping to 2-6 in conference play on the heels of a surprising 2-0 start.
Next up is a trip Wednesday to face a hot Ole Miss team, followed by another away game at Arkansas.
"It's real interesting because we're putting ourselves in the same situation over and over again," coach Trent Johnson said. "A lot of it has to do with your ability to concentrate in the heat of battle, and that's where the word frustration lies for me and the word accountability lies for them. Until we can play through those things, you're going to see all the inconsistencies that you see."
The Tigers will have to put behind two of their best shots at victory in recent weeks and move on. Prior to losing its sixth straight in the nail-biter against Mississippi State, LSU fell short 64-56 against South Carolina.
--LSU had three possessions against Mississippi State trailing by one in the final two minutes, but couldn't get off a shot. All three possessions ended in turnovers. Junior forward Garrett Green's jumper at the 2:09 mark was off the mark, and LSU didn't get off another shot the rest of the way.
--LSU's 33 points in the first half of Saturday's game were the most the Tigers have scored in one half during SEC play. The Tigers led 33-30 at the break, but Mississippi State tied the game on its first possession of the second half.
--LSU has been outscored in the second half of all eight SEC games. Mississippi State outscored the Tigers 28-24 after intermission.
BY THE NUMBERS: 35.6 --.LSU's field-goal percentage through eight SEC games, the worst percentage of the league's 12 teams.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have to give 100 percent, go all out," freshman guard Andre Stringer said. "If you do that and you come up short, you won't be thinking about things you wish you could have back." -- freshman guard Andre Stringer
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Ole Miss, Feb. 9
KEY MATCHUPS: When the teams met in Baton Rouge on Jan. 22, Ole Miss broke open a 38-32 game by outscoring LSU 40-19 in the second half. The Tigers must do a better job containing Chris Warren and the rest of the Ole Miss shooters, who knocked down 10 3-pointers in the first meeting.
--at Arkansas, Feb. 12
KEY MATCHUPS: Was it LSU's defense in the first matchup, or was Arkansas simply cold? The Tigers limited Arkansas to 33.2-percent shooting in a Jan. 12 matchup, holding off the Razorbacks for a 56-53 win. Since then, LSU has lost six straight. Recent opponents have forced the Tigers out of the 2-3 zone defense they ran against Arkansas throughout the first meeting.
FUTURES MARKET: Ralston Turner has returned to the LSU lineup, but his shot has not. Turner, who averaged 13.7 points in pre-conference play, missed the first five SEC games with a stress reaction in his right foot. In three games back, he has scored only 13 points. He went 3 of 14 from the field against Mississippi State. For the Tigers to start winning again, Turner must start scoring again.
--Freshman G Matt Derenbecker, who has been one of LSU's most consistent scorers in SEC play, suffered an ankle injury Wednesday against South Carolina and finished that game with only three points. He came off the bench against Mississippi State and played only eight minutes, failing to score. Coaches held in out in the second half after watching him favor the injury in the first.
--Junior F Storm Warren, limited much of the season with an Achilles injury, is slowly working his way back into form. Warren showed some explosiveness Saturday against Mississippi State, especially on the defensive end. He grabbed seven rebounds (all on defense) and blocked three shots in only 15 minutes of action, making up for his limited impact (two points) on offense.
--Freshman G Andre Stringer led LSU in scoring the past two games, scoring 19 points against South Carolina and 15 against Mississippi State. In the Mississippi State game, he hit 3-pointers for LSU on back-to-back possessions, helping the Tigers build a three-point lead with 3:23 left.