Last Saturday the LSU basketball team squandered a 12-point second half lead that resulted in a two-point loss to Utah.
At the postgame press conference, head coach Trent Johnson expressed his distaste for how the game ended, pointing to the final possession – a set play that was designed to get guard Bo Spencer an open look – as the statement moment of the night.
In short, the play was for Spencer to take the final shot. When he could not shake one-on-one defense from the Utes, Tasmin Mitchell forced the final attempt, which missed.
Two days later, Johnson’s team wouldn’t make the same mistake.
Up 33-31 at halftime, the Tigers used a 50-29 second half to get the 83-60 win, which moved LSU’s streak against in-state competition to 80 straight victories.
“We didn’t close the half well, but I went to the locker room and I could tell they were okay,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘Let’s start the half the right way.’ We went down and got stops, and that’s the thing I like.”
Senior forward Tasmin Mitchell was his usual self, recording a double-double behind a team-high 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Spencer, who scored a season-low four points against Utah, bounced back to form with 18 points and four assists. Spencer also led all shooters from behind the arc, knocking down four of LSU’s 10 three-point buckets.
LSU (9-5) shot nearly 60 percent from the field (31-of-52), while McNeese (5-9) hit on just over 38 percent (22-of-57).
Sophomore forward Storm Warren came off the bench to add 10 points, as did freshman guard Aaron Dotson, all of which came in the second half.
The help did not stop there.
Forwards Garrett Greene and Dennis Harris both recorded seven points, and guard Zach Kinsley added eight points behind a pair of a three-point shots.
“This game is all based off being ready to play, fighting with a sense of urgency every play,” Johnson said. “If we do those things, we have a chance to be successful.”
The performance was arguably the most complete of the season for LSU, which opens SEC play on Saturday when Alabama travels to the PMAC for a 4 p.m. CST matchup.
“We needed this game,” Johnson said. “Prior to the game, I told the guys that we are two defensive stops away from being 10-3. All we have to do is continue to fight.
“We are off [Tuesday], and then it really starts,” he added. “The second season starts.”