After stumble, No. 21 LSU heads to Mississippi State
LSU coach Will Wade knows his No. 21 Tigers wouldn't have won 10 straight games without sophomore point guard Tremont Waters' tremendous playmaking skills.
But in Saturday's streak-snapping 90-89 home loss to Arkansas, Waters made the kind of play that drives coaches crazy.
Instead of milking the clock with LSU up by one point with 35 seconds left, Waters threw an ill-advised alley-oop pass that fell out of bounds and gave the Razorbacks a chance to steal the victory -- which they did on a driving lane jumper by Mason Jones.
As LSU (17-4, 7-1 SEC) prepares to take on host Mississippi State (16-5, 4-4 SEC) on Wednesday night in Starkville, Wade was still feeling the sting of a losing a game he felt the Tigers should have won.
"We didn't play well enough to deserve the right to win," he said. "We've got to improve in some areas and get better, particularly at taking care of the basketball. Turning the ball over 21 times isn't going to get it done."
Wade second-guessed himself after the Arkansas loss about not taking a timeout after LSU rebounded the ball following a blocked shot.
"At that point, we just want to get the best shot available," he said. "We don't really want to go two-for-one when you're up one. We had the momentum. They didn't have any shot blockers in. Just drive the ball in there and go shoot it at the rim or get fouled and hopefully lay it in."
Mississippi State is showing signs of life following an 81-75 victory at Ole Miss on Saturday. Freshman forward Reggie Perry scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to spark the win. It was Perry's third consecutive strong performance in SEC play.
"We've always felt it could happen this year (for Perry) with experience and getting more and more reps," said Bulldogs coach Ben Howland. "He made two really big 3s. Reggie really works hard at his game and spends a lot of time shooting. He's really improved his stroke since November. He's going to be a great player."
The LSU-MSU matchup pits two of the best rebounding teams in the SEC. The Tigers have feasted this year with second-chance points, and the Bulldogs dominated Ole Miss on the offensive boards, 15-6, leading to a 19-6 edge in second-chance points.
Wade said LSU must guard the perimeter well to contain the Bulldogs' outside shooting, something the Tigers have not done consistently this season.
"It's an opportunity to patch it up or an opportunity to get extremely exposed again," Wade said. "Our 3-point defense is going to have to improve."
LSU also has struggled shooting from long range in the last five games -- making just 24 percent.
"That's including Tre (Waters) going 6 for 10 at Texas A&M," Wade said. "Take that out, and it's like 18 or 19 percent. We've got good shooters. We just need to step up and knock them down."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 5, 2019