Storm Warren matched a career-high with 21 points, while Tasmin Mitchell chipped in 19 points and 12 rebounds but it wasn’t enough as the LSU men’s basketball team dropped a 61-59 decision to Utah Saturday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers (8-5) surged out to a 47-35 advantage after an Aaron Dotson lay-up with 13:48 remaining in the second half. Utah (7-7) responded with a 26-12 finishing kick capped by a Carlton Brown three-pointer from the right baseline at the 1:10 mark.
“First of all, that was a tough game for the most part,” said head coach Trent Johnson. “For the first 30 minutes, I thought we played good basketball. In the first half, I thought Storm (Warren) and Tasmin (Mitchell) were doing a good job. I thought we as a team were doing a good job of going inside out.
“I thought (Utah) made adjustments to take Tasmin and Storm away,” added Johnson. “We made adjustments in terms of trying to put the ball in Bo (Spencer’s) hands and have him be aggressive offensively. For whatever reason, he chose not to be.”
LSU had an opportunity to send the game into overtime, but Zach Kinsley missed a put-back attempt off the back iron with four seconds to go. Two seconds later, the Utes missed the front-end of a one-and-one at the foul line. Mitchell grabbed the rebound but his heave from 60-feet fell short as time expired.
“I think we weren’t making shots, and they came down and executed on the offensive end,” said Mitchell. “You can’t trade baskets like that, especially when you’re not scoring, but I don’t think we came out with a sense of urgency like we did in the first half.”
After shooting 50 percent from the floor in the first half, the Tigers went 6-for-27 in the second half. Utah limited LSU to a pair of baskets over the final 13:48 and handed the Tigers their second non-conference home setback under Johnson.
Warren knocked down 6-of-12 from the floor and buried a career-best nine free throws. He also hauled in nine rebounds to fall just short of his eight double-double of the season. Spencer finished with only four points on 1-of-6 shooting.
LSU came out firing on all cylinders and built an 11-3 lead as Warren connected for a three-point play at the 16:15 mark. Utah got back within three points on five separate occasions, the latest at 29-26 with 5:26 left, before the Tigers scored 10 of the final 17 points to take a 39-33 edge into the locker room. Mitchell connected for 15 of his 19 points in the first half.
Utah had three players record double-figures highlighted by 14 points from Luka Drca. Brown finished with 12 points, while Kim Tillie added 10 points.
LSU concludes the non-conference slate Monday against McNeese State with tip-off set for 7 p.m. The Tigers would love nothing more than to get back on the winning track with the conference opener quickly approaching.
“Every team hates to lose. We lost a big one tonight,” Mitchell said. It would have been a good win for us to help our self-esteem and momentum. We have to wipe this off the calendar, look forward to McNeese State. Let’s see if we can get that momentum going into that game and then, hitting Alabama.”