Tigers drop Aussie finale to Melbourne

LSU drops the finale of its five-game Australian tour, 82-64 to Melbourne United.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, Australia – The LSU men’s basketball team didn’t appear to have the same flash it showed in the first four games of the Tour Down Under and a full-strength Melbourne United team was able to dominate LSU on the boards and in second chance points en route to an 82-64 victory over the Tigers at the Hisense Arena here Saturday night.

LSU concludes the five-games in eight days tour with a 3-2 record and will return to Baton Rouge on Sunday night.

Melbourne United, also in preseason training for the 2015-16 National Basketball League season, got revenge for Thursday night’s LSU 97-89 win over United at Dandenong Stadium.


TSD members can read Ben Love's immediate reaction to Game No. 5 for LSU in Australia via the link below.


The game was full of hype Saturday and flash and sizzle with light grids, smoke machines and fire and fireworks stands on the court for all the pre-game activities. Basketball Victoria and several corporate sponsors paid the expenses for the game to allow attendance to be free for the game and more than 9,000 of the arena’s 10,500 seats were filled at tipoff. Included in that number was Andrew Bogut of Golden State, who was honored at halftime for his play for Basketball Victoria and the Australian National Team. Last week, the Boomers qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The game was primarily decided on the boards as neither team shot the ball particularly well for the game. But United, after being out rebounded 38-32 by LSU in Thursday’s game with a 14-5 Tiger advantage on second chance points saw things get totally revered on them Saturday as Melbourne out rebounded LSU, 54-38 (13-7 on the offensive boards) an a very strong 24-3 on second chance points.

There were at least four times when offensive boards led to three-pointers by Melbourne.

Ben Simmons had 16 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes of play, hitting 5-of-13 shots with two treys and four free throws. Another LSU freshman Brandon Sampson of Baton Rouge was the only other Tiger in double figures hitting three treys in a 13-point effort. Antonio Blakeney and Keith Hornsby had nine and Tim Quarterman eight.

Stephen Holt and Todd Blanchfield, who combined for 51 points against LSU on Thursday, combined for 41 on this night with both players each hitting four treys. Holt finished with 23 points and Blanchfield 18. Majok Majok had 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Daniel Kickert had 12.

“We certainly don’t want to look for any excuses, but we certainly played better on Thursday night,” said LSU Coach Johnny Jones at the post-game press conference. “I thought they did a much better job of executing on both ends of the floor. Offensively, they were clicking. They were the aggressor when they came out and I thought they played with a much greater level of intensity in the first half. We didn’t match their intensity level. They did an excellent job of rebounding and second chance opportunities. We did not do that and that gave us a little bit of a separation.

“I thought we played a little bit better in the second half but throughout the game we didn’t shoot the ball as well as we did the other night. But the big difference is I thought the second chance opportunities they had, the put backs, scores and the things that gave them the separation they needed to win tonight.”

Things began to get away from LSU after a fairly close first 10 minutes as Melbourne United led by just four, 20-16, at quarter time.

But after LSU cut it to 22-19 early in the quarter on a three by Sampson, United went on a 13-2 run that expanded the Melbourne lead to 35-21 and by the half, LSU was down 51-34.

The third quarter was more of the same, as the home city NBL team outscored LSU, 22-15, to bring the score of 73-49 at third quarter time in favor of United. The Tigers hung in there at the end, getting some buckets as both teams cleared the bench with LSU finishing the last five minutes on a 7-1 run for the final 18-point margin.

“Definitely for me, mentally I don’t think I was prepared,” said Simmons at the press conference. “Physically I was tired. My legs were kind of shot. We were supposed to be ready. Mentally I was supposed to be ready, but I wasn’t. We learned a lot during the five games and I’m just happy we were able to come down here.”

LSU shot just 29.3 percent for the game 22-of-75, but made 10-of-28 treys (35.7%) and 10-of-14 from the charity stripe (71.4%). Melbourne posted 31-of-78 for 39.7 percent (down from 49 percent in the first half). The United hit 11-of-31 treys (35.5%) and 9-of-15 free throws (60%). LSU had 12 assists and 10 turnovers, while United posted 16 assists and 13 turnovers.

LSU never led in the contest with United leading for 39:19. The biggest lead was 32 at 81-49, capping a 16-0 run. LSU then had a 13-0 run that closed the game to 81-62.

“Anytime you put a group of guys together like that for the period of time that we did and they are getting along and bonding, I think it’s been great for our team,” Coach Jones said in summing up the trip. “I think we have been able to grow. It was great for us having 10 practices prior to our arrival (in Australia). Getting here I thought we did some good things throughout. We have five games. This was probably our least showing as far as execution is concerned, but I thought over the first four games we showed signs of improvement and getting better. We played a very experienced team (Saturday). We played a lot games in a short amount of days and when you play a team like this, it makes it difficult. We were exposed, but I’m really pleased with the effort of the guys during the time we were here and there are certainly some things that we look forward to working on when we get home.”

The fall semester begins for the Tigers on Monday and official season workouts begin in early October in preparation for the team’s season opener on Nov. 13 against McNeese.

The Tigers begin the 2015-16 season with an exhibition game on Nov. 6 at the Maravich Center before opening the schedule against McNeese State on Nov. 13.

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