The Cowboys featured a young and inexperienced starting lineup (2 freshmen, 1 sophomore, 1 junior, 1 senior), and it showed in the second half.
"Our team this year is relatively new. We've got one of the youngest teams in college basketball, with seven new players," OSU Coach Sean Sutton said. "We're not a team that has great low post players. Most of our post players are new and all of them are inexperienced and young."
OSU was lead in scoring by two freshmen. Guards James Anderson and Terrel Harris finished the game with 25 points and 24 points respectively for the Cowboys. Both players also shot well from 3-point range, shooting a combined 5 of 11. Harris also added 3 points, 3 rebounds, and a steal in the final minute, ultimately clinching the game for OSU.
"Heart and effort really take over at the end of the game," Harris said. "It comes down to has the most heart. I didn't want to lose."
Anderson came out strong in the first half, scoring 14 points on 5-11 shooting, in 18 minutes of play. He converted on a tough reverse lay-up with 11:41 remaining in the first half that sparked a 10-0 run for the Cowboys, putting them up 25-11 early on in the contest. He continued to show flashes of his athletic ability for the remainder of the game, finishing with 2 blocks, 2 steals, and 3 rebounds to go along with his game-high 25 points.
"He put together the type of game today that I expect him to play most nights," Sutton said. LSU junior guard Marcus Thornton lead the Tigers in scoring, finishing with 20 points on 6-14 shooting. Junior center Chris Johnson also turned it on in the second half, shooting 6-7 from the field, including 3-4 from long distance, tallying 15 second half points and 19 points overall.
The first and second half proved to be polar opposites for the Tigers, who shot a dismal 30.4% (7-23) from the field in the first, compared to 60% (18-30) in the second.
The outside shooting also improved drastically between the halves for the Tigers, who went from 30% (3-10) from 3-point range in the first half and 53.3% (8-15) in the second. "First half, we played defensively the best we've played all season," Sutton said. "In the second half, our defense wasn't as good, but their offense was also better."
LSU also committed 18 first half turnovers, creating 17 points for the Cowboys. "The turnovers we committed in the first half were careless," LSU Coach John Brady said. "We looked like a deer in the headlights for the first 15 minutes of the game. You just can't do that against teams as good defensively as OSU." Oklahoma State was physical down low the entire game, registering 36 points in the paint and 11 second chance points.
The Cowboys also out-rebounded the Tigers 32-31, thanks in part to LSU junior forward and leading rebounder from last year, Tasmin Mitchell, being limited to only 6 minutes, leaving a void for the Tigers down low for most of the game.
"We aren't a physical team by look, so we have to be fundamental by play," Brady said. "Mitchell has a real ankle problem and I am going to send him to a specialist when we get back to Baton Rouge."
According to Coach Sutton, OSU's victory was "much needed" after the Cowboys dropped a game to North Texas last week 82-73; a game in which they did not have the lead after midway through the first half.