Tuesday night’s win over Louisiana-Lafayette (1-4) brought both the good and bad for LSU.
The good is evident from the game stats.
LSU was more efficient from the field (40.4 percent), outrebounded (45-28) and outscored the Ragin’ Cajuns, a team that fielded a similar lineup in 2008 and was able to come within two points of sending the meeting into overtime.
In another banner evening, Storm Warren scored 18 points and pulled in 16 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season.
A change from New York, the sophomore forward also played from start to finish without grabbing the attention of the referees.
“To play 39 minutes and not get into foul trouble, that is a good thing,” Johnson said. “When Tas is playing like that, it opens up lanes for Storm.”
Tasmin Mitchell, who was the only player on either side to go the entire 40 minutes, recorded a double-double of his own behind a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds.
“My teammates made it possible for me to get the open looks that I got,” Mitchell said. Hinting that he had put too much pressure on his own shoulders prior to the season, the senior guard noted the want to, “play within myself.”
While Johnson called Mitchell’s game his best of the season, the compliments from the headman on LSU’s performance were few and far between.
“You would think we’d all be happy,” Johnson said. “We were really sluggish. Our inability to take care of the ball at times was mind-boggling.”
LSU, who started the game without injured guard Bo Spencer - who later played 32 minutes - turned the ball over 13 times on an evening where mistimed passes and mishandled catches were the norm.
“I thought we came out lax,” Spencer said. “We had a few defensive breakdowns, but a lot of offensive breakdowns. We can’t come out like that. We have to find a way to come out with a sense of urgency.”
The game stayed tight throughout most of the first half, with ULL taking their biggest lead of the game on Tyren Johnson’s dunk with 6:52 to play, which put the Ragin’ Cajun’s out front 20-16.
Mitchell answered with a quick three before LSU was able to open up their largest lead of the half on a 3-point bucket by Spencer, which put LSU out front 28-21.
The Tigers held the lead until the 10-minute mark of the second half, when a Lamar Roberson 3-point shot tied the score at 43-43.
On the next possession, point guard Chris Bass, who went scoreless in 39 minutes of action against Arizona State, came up with his first bucket of the night – a 3-point shot that gave LSU the lead for good.
“I tried to step up,” Bass said. “10-minute mark, time to step up. I was confident. I have been trying to stay confident.”
After ULL pulled within two points with 2:03 to play, Warren made one of two shots from the line to put the score at 55-52.
That’s when Mitchell, who had not taken a seat on the bench all night, put the game away with a steal and a 3-point bucket – his third trey of the night.
“Coming back from a two-game losing streak, we won, and that’s all that matters,” Mitchell said. “We did what we were supposed to do, even though it was kind of ugly.”
Ugly, it seems thus far, is a word that will be tossed around plenty at the PMAC this season.
“We are going to be in our fair share of ugly games,” Johnson said. “We cant be a team that allows our offense to dictate our defense.”
Without another game until Dec. 12, Johnson said that time off, to both get healthy and fine-tune the teams game, is much needed.
“I have got to do something to get us back in rhythm.”