It was West Virginia’s first loss of the season; it fell to 7-1 on the season. LSU has to overcome a 14-point second-half deficit to earn the victory.
"We were out of timeouts, and we just had to get the ball out and downcourt. The initial thing is to get it to the rim, but we got it down the floor and there were four purple jerseys down there," Staten said. "With time running out, you just have to get a shot up.
"I take full responsibility for this loss. As a senior and as a captain ... I've just got to make sure it doesn't happen again."
After WVU had controlled much of the second half following a great start, the Tigers’ guard Keith Hornsby hit a three with 27.2 seconds to play to take a 72-71 lead – LSU’s first of the second half.
Following a timeout by the Mountaineers, freshman guard Daxter Miles has trouble inbounding the ball but found forward Jonathan Holton in the backcourt who was fouled by LSU’s Jarell Martin. Holton missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Miles followed that up with a sensational tip-in to go ahead 73-72.
A silly foul by Holton as the Tigers moved down the floor following Miles’ shot stopped the clock at 23.5 to play and gave LSU an opportunity to win it.
That’s when Long hit his layup to win the game. On the play, sophomore guard Tarik Phillip was screened by LSU and neither Staten or freshman guard Daxter Miles helped defensively when Long got to the rim.
"That’s something we guard every single day," said a disappointed WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "He’s always taking it right ... but I don’t know how to you go shoot the layup from the top of the key and nobody helps."
The Mountaineers allowed the Tigers to shoot 50 percent in the second half and recover from a 14-point deficit with 18 minutes to play.
"When we don't execute offensively, we've still got to play defense," Miles said.
Forward Tim Quarterman led LSU with 21 points. Martin had 18 and 14 rebounds. Hornsby finished with 15 including three 3-pointers.
WVU was led by Staten, who scored 17 points but was 6-of-19 from the field. Phillip was big for WVU on Thursday. He finished 8-of-8 from the free-throw line and had 12 points. He was crucial during stretches late in the first half and second half defensively. Miles had 13 points.
Overall, though, WVU shot just 34 percent and missed many, many easy layups.
"[LSU is] too good and too talented to miss the shots that we missed. It’s not a matter of us getting shots, we don’t make any," Huggins said. "When you throw it that close, you’ve got to come up with it."
WVU’s frontcourt starters struggled against LSU’s size inside. Sophomore forward Devin Williams had his worst game in recent memory. He finished with just eight points on 3-of-8 shooting and three rebounds after leaving the game three minutes in due to picking up his second foul.
Jonathan Holton did record 11 rebounds but managed just four points for the Mountaineers.
WVU was out-rebounded 44-35 and while they forced 24 turnovers, they scored just 25 points off those.
"When shots aren't falling, when you aren't getting looks you like, you've still got to play defense," Staten said. "Our team is still a work in progress ... Right now, we're an inconsistent team, and we just need to keep working."
Huggins said: "My fear was that when we press as much as we do that our half-court defense would suffer, and it really has ... I think they need to see how bad they are defensively in the half court. And we were pretty good in practice. It’s deteriorated. You get to where you want to steal the ball too much."
WVU started out decently, as it was able to put LSU’s best player Jordan Mickey on the bench just two minutes into the game after picking up his second foul. Less than a minute later, though, Williams picked up his second foul with LSU leading 6-5.
Without Williams, the Mountaineers did struggle to score in the paint in the first half. They had just eight, as most of the younger guards seemed scared away from seemingly easy layups due to LSU’s size in the front court.
With WVU up 13-11, the Tigers scored eight straight to take the lead they would hold all the way until late in the first half. WVU, however, was able to keep the game close with some solid free-throw shooting.
Huggins called a timeout with 6:24 to go in the first half, and that seemed to solidify the Mountaineers enough for the rest to finish the half on an 18-7 run to take a 43-38 lead into the locker room.
WVU didn’t give LSU a chance to breathe or think to open the second half. The Mountaineers scored nine straight points – four from Staten, three from Miles and two from Holton – in the half to jump out to a 52-38 lead before the Tigers called a timeout. Continuing from the end of the first half, WVU had gone on an 18-1 run to take that commanding advantage.
The Mountaineers would go on a 2-of-9 stretch from the field and allow the Tigers back into the contest. They scored seven straight points to cut their deficit to five with 12 minutes to play.
With nine minutes to play, a three from Hornsby tied the game at 56. On the other end, Staten hit a jumper that ended a 7:02 drought from the field for the Mountaineers.
WVU and LSU would go back and forth throughout the final minutes of the game, as neither team seemed to be able to hit the shot to win it. Phillip would score a dunk off a missed shot to take a 66-60 lead, but LSU quickly followed that up with a three.
The TIgers would end the game on a 14-7 run to win it.
"Our energy level went from 100 to 0 real quick," Miles said. "We just have to keep the toughness and energy levels up."