Another game down, another loss for the LSU basketball team. Once again, the story for the Tigers (9-12, 0-7) was lesser talent against top-notch competition.
“Most of the teams we are playing are more experienced and have more talent, so it’s always a challenge for us as a team,” said LSU head coach Trent Johnson. “Mississippi State is a very good basketball team. We knew going in that it was going to be a tough challenge for our team.”
Jarvis Varnado recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds to help Mississippi State break their two-game losing streak, keeping LSU winless in conference on the season.
Slow to start the game, LSU was unable to record their first field goal until nearly the midpoint of the opening half. Fortunately, Johnson’s attempt to keep the contest in the half-court resulted in a reachable 23-15 halftime score.
“They intentionally controlled the pace of the game by holding the ball,” said Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. “We didn’t get a lot of shots the ?rst half; in fact, I think we only had 20.
“That’s just part of the game,” he added. “Different teams do different things. We just have to be patient enough and disciplined enough to stay alert and grind. The ?rst half they would just run the clock down to about 10 seconds and get the ball to Mitchell on some type of post play. They were struggling to do that and that’s why they didn’t put a lot of points up. The second half we really were able to move the ball and share the ball a little more.”
With LSU unable to find any consistency on the back end, the Bulldogs buckled down and put the Tigers away with a 44-point second half.
The lone Tiger in double-digit scoring or rebounding, senior Tasmin Mitchell - who finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds - said that youth remains the teams’ Achilles’ heel.
“We always want the team to come into a different atmosphere and play well, but we didn’t get into our rhythm this game,” Mitchell said. “We have a lot of young guys on our team this year and they don’t understand the concept of SEC play yet. That is just something we have to work on.”
Quite on the afternoon for LSU was guard Bo Spencer, who recorded just nine points on 3-for-10 shooting. All three of the junior’s field goals came by way of a second half three-point bucket.
“I know that I am capable of hitting a lot of my shots, I just started getting hot towards the end,” Spencer said.
Ravern Johnson led the Bulldogs with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting, while Barry Stewart and Phil Turner each finished with 12 points.
LSU, who gave significant minutes to six different guards in the game, turned the ball over 12 times, resulting in 17 points for Mississippi State.
The Tigers will be back in action on Feb. 4 against Tennessee at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.