Terrill Weil

RAPID REACTION | Tigers scratch back from five-point deficit with strong finish to improve to 7-2

Duop Reath and Kieran Hayward spark comeback, but defensive struggles remain a concern

How it happened

LSU dug deep after Texas Southern grabbed a five-point lead midway through the second half when Kieran Hayward and Duop Reath pumped in back-to-back 3-pointers and Skylar Mays supplied a spark against the pesky on-ball defense TSU applied throughout. Reath dumped in 9 points in 2:28 and Mays gave LSU the lead for good with a nasty dribble-drive crossover with 5:17 to go and the Tigers iced a gritty win by converting six consecutive free throws in the last 54 seconds.

What it means

The Tigers are learning how to win close games, but they have to start finding more consistency over 40 minutes and figure out that defense has to be a 40-minute commitment and not optional.

Player of the game: Craig Victor II

14 points, 10 rebounds, 4-5 FT,2  blocks: As important as any of those numbers was the fact that Victor only got tagged with two fouls and he was able to stay on the court and body up Texas Southern’s Derrick Griffin inside. Victor was a menacing presence in the lane on defense and delivered back-to-back huge buckets in the final 2:04 that helped LSU gain just enough of a cushion to hold TSU at bay.

Side notes

Reath scored 19 of his 21 points after halftime, hitting 8-of-11 field goals and snaring 6 rebounds in 19 minutes. … Sparked by Hayward’s 8 points and 12 from Jalyn Patterson, LSU got 22 points off the bench in 62 minutes. The reserves also contributed 9 rebounds and 5 assists (4 from Patterson). … TSU didn’t commit a turnover in the first 11½ minutes of the second half and wound up with only 4 giveaways after halftime and 10 in all. LSU coughed it up only six times in the second half. … LSU recorded 5 blocked shots in the second half, but still allowed 10 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points. … Antonio Blakeney buried his first three shots, all 3-pointers, in the opening 5:47 of the game. After that he only hoisted six shots and made two on the way to a relatively quiet 16 points. … LSU went 14-for-17 at the free-throw line for a season-best 82.4%. More vital: The Tigers hit all six they put up in the last minute.

What’s next

The Tigers don’t rest long as Charleston Southern comes to town Monday for a 7 p.m. matchup. A year ago, the Cougars stunned LSU 70-58 in Charleston and they are 8-3 this season with four victories in a row, including an impressive 15-point romp pas Davidson. 

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