LSU falls to mid-major upstart Wichita State

Eerily similar to a loss to Northern Iowa last season, the No. 6 ranked LSU Tigers dropped a 57-53 decision to Wichita State Shockers Saturday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Center.

A year ago, Northern Iowa, who are members of the Missouri Valley Conference along with Wichita State, came to Baton Rouge upsetting the Tigers 54-50. Despite leading by a wide margin in the first half, missed free throws and defensive breakdowns doomed LSU down the stretch and the Shockers celebrated the upset on the Tigers' home floor.

 

"They were tougher than we were for the most part I thought," said LSU coach John Brady. "In the second half we shot 8-24 from the field, 1-5 from three and 7-13 from the free throw line you can't expect to win the game with those stats. We got to the free throw line 13 times in the second half but we weren't able to produce the baskets that were necessary."

 

The upset wasn't exactly a "shocker," pardon the pun.

 

Wichita State (4-0) already owned victories over Final Four participant George Mason on its home court last Saturday afternoon, 72-66, before coming to Baton Rouge and taking the Tigers (2-1) down.

 

"The key two words there is last year," said Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon. "It is a different year. I was proud of our group. We've done it on the road too. You see a lot of upsets happening out there but not many of them are on the road games. We played in a tough environment last week, and we did it here."

 

Glen Davis led LSU with 17 points and 13 rebounds and Darnell Lazare added 11. Wichita State spread the majority of its scoring among five players -- Ryan Martin 12, P. J. Couisnard and Karon Bradley 11 and Kyle Wilson and Phillip Thomasson 10 each.

 

LSU moved out quickly against the Shockers opening a 14-4 advantage 9:30 into the contest on a jumper by Magnum Rolle and had an 11-point, 18-7 advantage on another layup by Rolle with 9:10 to go in the first half. But turnovers and missed shots allowed Wichita State to get back into the game before a banking three-pointer by Tack Minor gave LSU a 29-23 advantage at the intermission.

 

"One thing we did well is I thought we defended them well, particularly in the first half and than for most of the second half," Brady said.

 

In the second half, Wichita State continued to put the pressure on LSU offensively, asking the Tigers to again and again make the stop. With LSU's offense sputtering, the pressure to make the play was mounting with every possession.

 

"We have to make more outside shots because it is going to be hard to get the ball in the post without hitting outside shots," Brady said. "In the second half, we weren't able to hit enough outside shots to where we could operate around the basket."

 

The Shockers cut the game to one, 39-38, with 9:49 to play, but Garrett Temple hit a three and the lead was again four. Four times, Wichita State would cut it to two and they finally got the game even at the 4:09 mark when Martin got a second offensive rebound of the possession and scored to even the game at 48-48.

 

"We don't do this very often, but we came out scared and a little intimidated," Turgeon said. "They played at a high level defensively most of the game, especially at the start. We were walking on egg shells. I was just begging them to play hard. I told them at halftime, I just want to be able to look ourselves in the mirror after the game and say that we tried as hard as we could. We did that in the second half."

 

Lazare would make two free throws to put LSU back up, 50-48 at the 3:49 mark, but LSU would miss a golden opportunity to up the lead when Tasmin Mitchell missed two free throws at the 2:31 mark. Lazare would foul on the rebound and Wilson dropped in two free throws to tie the game at 50-50.

 

After a Lazare miss, Bradley hit a jumper with 1:49 to play to give Wichita State their first lead at 52-50. LSU missed two three pointers before the Tigers were forced to foul and Bradley made two free throws to make it 54-50 with 23 seconds to go. LSU never got closer from three the rest of the way.

 

"It seemed like it was all a struggle offensively," Brady said. "We never really had any rhythm on offense. Certainly they defended us well, but we still had some opportunities to make some plays but we weren't able to capitalize on them."

 

In the second half, LSU was just 8-of-24 from the field, 1-of-5 from the arc and 7-of-13 at the free throw line with nine turnovers.

 

"I think we just fell out of a rhythm in the second half. I don't if we even got into a good rhythm besides the beginning of the game, but we fell out of a rhythm," said LSU guard Dameon Mason. "We just lost because we couldn't hit shots. We were trying to force things, but we just lost."

 

For the game Wichita State shot a consistent 24-of-52 for the game, including 13-of-28 in the second half and 7-of-8 at the free throw line. Ironically, in a rarity, neither team advanced to the free throw line for a shot in the first 20 minutes of play.

 

"They executed and played well," Temple said. "They're a veteran team. We're not a young team by any means, but they executed their stuff. They came in here, played tough in the second half and basically methodically beat us in the second half."

 

"When you have to put every possession on your defense to win the game it makes it much more difficult to win the game," said LSU Coach John Brady. "We did not do anything consistently well on offense. We had some opportunities, but we just didn't execute as well as (Wichita) did. On offense we have to be more patient and execute better if we are going to beat a team as talented and as well coached as Wichita State."


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