There was a common thread to what LSU’s players said after they finished off 10th-ranked Marquette 67-59 Monday night in one of the bigger Tiger victories in the last six seasons.
That theme: LSU prevailed by making the Golden Eagles step out of character.
|Malcolm White helped make sure every shot was challenged against Marquette.|
Instead of a fast-paced, pressure style that had created seven blowouts in a 10-0 start, Marquette was forced to slow down and try to grind it out against the defensive-minded Tigers.
“We wanted to slow them down and make them play our game,” LSU senior Storm Warren said.
The Eagles came in averaging 84 points a game, but struggled to get to 59 – which matched a season-low. They produced only 23 points in the first half and had three lulls of 3 minutes of longer without a point – they went 7:59 between made field goals after taking a 20-15 lead on Jae Crowder’s 3-pointer at the 9:44 mark.
After a dismal shooting performance in the first half (28.6%), Marquette heated up in the final 20 minutes but still finished shooting a season-low 36.2% (21-of-58). The previous low was 37.9% against Norfolk State. The Eagles also struggled against Wisconsin’s suffocating defense, hitting only 38.3% in a 61-54 victory.
LSU has held the last five foes to 60 points or fewer – which equals a streak from 2006-07 – and the last four opponents have shot 33.3% or worse.
The Tigers’ win on Monday was their second this season against a Big East Conference foe after they beat Rutgers 55-50 on Dec. 3. That marks the first time LSU has ever won two games in the same season against teams from the league regarded as one of the elite in the country. The 1969-70 LSU squad beat St. John’s and Georgetown, but that was before the Big East was formed.
The last time the Tigers won a pair of non-conference games against teams from any power conference – the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten and Pac-12 – was the 2006 Final Four run when LSU edged Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and then outlasted Texas in the South Regional Championship Game.
There’s a chance for the Tigers to add another layer to that historical achievement when Virginia visits the PMAC on Jan. 2. A win against the Cavaliers would mark the first time LSU has claimed two triumphs against the ACC since 1986-97 when it beat Georgia Tech twice.
The Tigers’ 63.6% shooting from 3-point range (7-of-11) was a season-high, while their 51.9% (14-of-27) was a season-worst.
LSU’s bench outscored Marquette’s reserves 24-4. Three Tigers came off the bench to outscore the Eagles by themselves – Storm Warren with 10 points, John Isaac with 7 and Malcolm White with 5.
Monday's victory stretched LSU’s winning streak to five games, which matches its longest since Dec. 1-19, 2009. The last time the Tigers won more games consecutively was a 10-game surge from Jan. 28-Feb. 28, 2009.
Freshman Johnny O’Bryant was held scoreless for the first time in his career. He has produced only 4 points in the last two games and has still notched back-to-back double-digit games only once so far.
LSU hits the road to North Texas to face a Mean Green team that thumped the Tigers 75-55 last season in Baton Rouge. Former LSU point guard and assistant coach Johnny Jones has UNT off to a 5-5 start this season, with a game Tuesday night against Grambling.