How it happened
LSU didn’t allow a miserable first game bleed into the second and shored up some of the problems that surfaced against Wichita State. The Tigers played with more conviction – especially Brandon Sampson, Duop Reath and freshmen Skylar Mays and Wayde Sims – and tightened up on defense. Old Dominion shot just 36.5% from the floor (23 of 63) and that kept the Monarchs from expanding a six-point lead at a pivotal juncture.
What it means
The Tigers grew up a little on Thursday and showed that there is some coachability and fortitude in the locker room. On a night when Antonio Blakeney again struggled offensively, other players stepped into the void and produced and that’s a meaningful building block.
Player of the game: Brandon Sampson
Career-best 24 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field and a hugely important 9-for-9 from the foul stripe.
Reath recorded a double-double (16 and 10) and recorded a pair of blocks. … After going scoreless against Wichita State, Sims and Mays rebounded well with 8 and 6 points respectively. Sims grabbed 3 offensive rebounds and Mays had a pair of assists. … LSU finished with a too-many 21 turnovers and that number has to shrink against a team like VCU that thrives on pressure and transition scoring … The Tigers won the backboard battle 40-35. The second-leading rebounder after Reath was 6-foot-1 Jalyn Patterson.
LSU takes on VCU at 6 p.m. Friday in the 5th-place game. The Rams edged St. John’s 75-69 Thursday after a narrow 71-63 loss to Baylor in the opening round.