Tigers Drop First SEC Game, 90-89, to Arkansas

Photo Source: Abi Mock
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BATON ROUGE, La. (LSUSports.net) Mason Jones’ six-foot bucket with 22 seconds to play doomed what was almost another amazing comeback by the LSU Tigers as the Arkansas Razorbacks pulled off the upset, 90-89, Saturday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Razorbacks survived a frantic comeback by LSU as the Tigers rallied to take the lead on two occasions, the last at 2:01 to play at 89-88 on free throws by Smart.

Arkansas raised its season mark to 13-8 and 4-4 on the season in the SEC, while LSU drops to 17-4 and 7-1 in the SEC.

The Tigers loss snapped a 10-game winning streak overall and an 18-game home winning streak that is tied for the second longest in the Maravich Center’s 48 years as the home of LSU basketball.

The game was officially listed as a paid sellout of 13,311, the 10th biggest announced attendance in the building’s present capacity of 13,215 (post 2005 season) and the 11th sellout since the reconfiguration of seats dropped capacity to the present number.

Arkansas shot 58.3 percent for the game, 35-of-60 attempts and an impressive 13-of-24 from the arc (54.2%). LSU shot 26-of-59 overall, 44.1 percent, and just 5-of-24 from the arc (20.8%). The Tigers had a great game again at the line, making 32-of-38, for 80 percent. This is just the 46th time in 402 games since 1966-67 that LSU has lost when making more free throws than the opponent attempts.

Naz Reid had a double double to lead LSU with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Javonte Smart had 18 points, Skylar Mays 17, Tremont Waters 12 points and six assists and Kavell Bigby-Williams 10.

Daniel Gafford led Arkansas with 23 points, while Isaiah Joe had 18, Keyshawn Embery-Simpson had 16 points, Jalen Harris 11 and Mason Jones 10. Six different players converted three pointers with Joe and Embery-Simpson getting four each.

Despite the Hogs shooting 63 percent with six threes in the first half, the Tigers were down just four, 45-41, at the intermission.

But the Razorbacks continued to torch the Tigers from distance and inside in the second half, opening a double digit lead, 56-46, with 17 minutes to play and as much as 18, 66-48, with 13:45 to play. However, then things began to happen for LSU.

Still down 17, 72-55, with 10:33 to play, Mays hit a tray, Reid got a steal and a bucket off the press and after a miss and turnover each way, Mays got a layup off a Smart steal and a free throw to cut the Arkansas lead to nine, 72-63.

Arkansas would push the advantage back to 13, but LSU came again, getting it back to five at 80-75, on two Waters free throws with 5:50 to play. Arkansas would connect on one free throw and after a Waters layup miss, Emmitt Williams dunked the put back to make it 81-77.

Off another turnover, Smart had a steal and a layup and LSU had the crowd roaring as the Tigers were down just two, 81-79, with still 4:55 to play.

But the Razorbacks made another three on the other end to back up five before Waters made two free throws, Arkansas turned it over again and off a Smart miss, Reid had the dunk follow this time and LSU was within one, 84-83, with 4:14 to go.

Arkansas’ Gafford on the other end, missed a layup, had another blocked by Marlon Taylor, but LSU’s Reid was called for a foul after getting the rebound leading to the final media timeout at 3:50 to play.

Out of the break, Joe missed a jumper, Waters got the rebound and found Smart for the layup that put LSU ahead for the time since leading 11-9 early in the game.

On the ensuing Razorback possession, Waters fouled Joe and he made two free throws to give Arkansas the lead back at 86-85. Smart was fouled on the other end and made the first to tie the game at 86 with 3:20 to play.

After missing the second Williams got the offensive board and was fouled. He made one of two to give LSU back the lead at 87-86 at the 3:19 mark. But Gafford got a lay-in to put the Hogs back by one.

Both teams then missed three-pointers and Smart was fouled on the LSU end and made two free throws with 2:01 to play to make it 89-88 setting the stage for the wild finish.

There would only be one more bucket the rest of the way, that being Arkansas’ game winner. Before that, Arkansas would turn the ball over on a shot clock violation. Smart missed a three-pointer, Adrio Bailey jumper was blocked by Taylor and LSU had the ball with 45 seconds remaining.

Waters and Taylor tried to hook up on an alley oop play that they have connected on several times this season, but the play was unable to be completed and Arkansas came down to score on Jones’ lane bucket to take the lead.

In the final seconds, Reid drive to the bucket hit the side of the rim. Smart's baseline jumper hit the far side of the rim and Reid scrambling to get the rebound, got off a 19-footer as the horn sounded, hitting the front of the rim.

LSU dominated the second half in rebounds, 29-10, and 14-3 on the offensive boards, finishing the game with a 44-20 advantage in rebounds. The Tigers had a 19-4 advantage in offensive rebounds and 21-6 in second chance points.

The Tigers go on the road to face Mississippi State in Starkville on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum (ESPN2, LSU Sports Radio Network) before returning to Baton Rouge for a game on Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. against Auburn.