Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Whatever LSU was trying to do to build some momentum heading into the conference tournament, it failed spectacularly on the road at Arkansas tonight as poor shooting and tremendous foul trouble doomed the Tigers to a 90-99 loss that was never close. LSU trailed by as much as 23 points in the 2nd half.
LSU senior guard Skylar Mays was the only Tiger to make a splash offensively, with 28 points on 7-for-17 shooting and 10-for-11 from the line. Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford added 14 points each.
The Tigers just never seemed to be in the game and weren’t able to defend or score well for most of it, especially in the first half. LSU shot 11-for-31 (35.5%) from the field, while Arkansas shot 17-for-32 (53.1%). Two Razorbacks — Jimmy Whitt Jr. and Mason Jones — scored 25+ points. Jones had a game-high 36 points.
On top of that poor performance, LSU also picked up seven fouls just seven minutes into the game, allowing Arkansas to shoot 16-for-22 from the line in the first half alone. Javonte Smart, Marlon Taylor, Darius Days and Emmitt Williams all had three fouls before first half even ended.
LSU finished strong at the end of the first half, making four of its final five shots to only trail 55-34 going into halftime. It was still LSU’s biggest halftime deficit and the most points the Tigers have give up all season.
LSU played slightly better in the second half, but could never overcome that deficit or the foul trouble. Within six minutes of the second half, Williams, Taylor and Days all picked up their fourth fouls. Smart picked up his fourth soon after and the Tigers were forced to go deep in the bench, past the usual six- or seven-man rotation.
Smart fouled out with four minutes left in the game, finishing with 14 points.
The Tigers cut the lead to as little as seven points, and outscored the Razorbacks 56-44 in the second half due to Arkansas’ poor free throw shooting, but still couldn’t mount a significant comeback.
With the rest of today’s results, LSU is now firmly in a 3 way tie for 2nd place in the SEC. Mississippi St and South Carolina are also just a game back, but thanks to holding the tie breaker, LSU should just barely hold on to it’s 2 round bye in Nashville. The regular season ends Saturday at 1pm as LSU host UGA for Senior Day.