How it Happened
The Tigers and Ospreys went back-and-forth during the early parts of the game before LSU built a 10-point lead with 6:48 to go in the first half. Big games from Brandon Sampson and Antonio Blakeney kept the Tigers going. Down the stretch in the first half though, LSU went ice cold from the field. The team had just one basket in the final four minutes of the first half and went the final 2:35 without scoring. That allowed the Ospreys to go into the half with just a 1-point lead on North Florida.
LSU came out in the second half and UNF came out swinging and able to build a 3-point lead over the Tigers before LSU stormed back. LSU used a big second half from Brandon Sampson, who had 10 points in the first few minutes to build a 7-point lead by the under-12 timeout. It was about a 3-minute span for the Tigers to take that lead, but it was the biggest time of the game and the team was able to put away pesky North Florida by making timely shots even as North Florida continued to press down the stretch. Blakeney hit a couple big shots and made a couple key free throws to ice the game and grab the 78-70 win.
What it Means
Well, the Tigers continue to struggle to defend especially in the paint with Reath fouling out for the second straight game. Reath got beat on a few occasions and the team was outrebounded. It takes a village to want to rebound and really, you saw Brandon Sampson apply himself in this aspect late in the game with a couple key rebounds. LSU needs that type of effort on the boards at all times. If the team can't find that from others, it'll be long nights like this giving up too many second chance points and points in the paint. Craig Victor returning next week should help, but as of right now, the team has to get more answers than what they've found.
The rotation also got a bit tighter tonight with guys like Kieran Hayward getting six minutes and Wayde Sims only getting 12 even after his performance against Southern Miss. Minutes will be even tougher to come by next week.
Player of the Game: Brandon Sampson
The one downside of Sampson's game is that he didn't shoot more especially in the second half. Sampson finished with 16 points including two 3-pointers. Sampson also added four rebounds in the game as well. While Blakeney finished with 20 points, it was Sampson's scoring when the Tigers were cold as a team that kept the team up in the game.
The two teams combined for 25-for-51 from the free-throw line, 34 turnovers and 46 fouls. It was one of those nights that the refs were busy. LSU got worked on the boards and really, UNF should have been able to hang onto more rebounds, it could have been worse. LSU finished getting outrebounded 44-34.
The Tigers head to the Bahamas with a 3-0 record on the season to compete in the Battle 4 Atlantis. First game tips off at 11 am CT on Wednesday, November 23 against Wichita State.