No. 19 LSU shoots for new winning streak vs. TCU
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No. 19 LSU found a way to overcome the absence of two of its top three scorers in its last game.
Coach Will Wade juggled his lineup in the absence of second-leading scorer Darius Days and third-leading scorer Xavier Pinson and the Tigers (16-4) ended a three-game losing streak with a 70-64 home victory against Texas A&M on Wednesday night.
LSU might be short-handed again when it plays TCU (13-4) in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.
Wade placed leading scorer Tari Eason into the starting lineup and made usual starter Brandon Murray a reserve to mitigate the loss of Eason's productivity off the bench. Eason had 14 points and nine rebounds despite missing much of the second half with leg cramps.
Murray scored a career-high 21 points and Eric Gaines, who has started the last five games while Pinson has been sidelined by a sprained knee, added a career-high 16 points.
"I thought Gaines was great, I thought Murray was great," Wade said. "Those guys stepped up and made plays and made things happen."
Days, who sat out Wednesday after being hampered by a sprained ankle in each of the last two games, appears closer to returning than Pinson does.
LSU trailed the Aggies by five with 3:45 remaining, then finished on a 13-2 run. It held Texas A&M scoreless for the final 1:45 and scored the final nine points.
Mwani Wilkinson made his only field-goal attempt of the game a meaningful one, hitting a 3-pointer that broke a tie at 64 and started the closing run. The Tigers made 10 straight free throws down the stretch.
"It was a great, great win," Wade said. "We found a way."
The Horned Frogs will try to bounce back from a disappointing performance. A record home crowd of 8,412 turned out Tuesday night for the game against Texas, but TCU played poorly in a 73-50 loss that featured the team's lowest point total this season.
"I can't explain it," coach Jamie Dixon said. "I don't know why we played so poorly. We looked slow to begin with. ... They clearly beat us in every way. I haven't had many losses like this. This was bad."
The Frogs, who are tied for third in the country with a rebound margin of plus-9, were outrebounded for just the second time all season, getting beat 41-31 while surrendering 15 offensive rebounds.
"It's embarrassing," said Mike Miles said, who led TCU with 14 points. "We got our you-know-what kicked. ... Everything went wrong the whole game. Nothing went right. We got what we deserved."
The Frogs made just 2 of 16 3-pointers and 12 of 21 free throws. They had 13 turnovers and just 10 assists.
Emanuel Miller, who had 13 points and a career-high five blocked shots, said TCU needs to use that performance as a learning tool to get ready for LSU.
"I think there's so many things we can learn from this game," Miller said. "We have to move on to LSU, but we have to remember this game and make it never happen again."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 27, 2022