The LSU basketball team lost its first true road game of the season and its eighth straight as a program as the Tigers saw a significant second-half lead completely disappear as No. 24 Houston earned an 82-76 victory Wednesday night in the Fertitta Center.
After taking a 50-35 lead early in the second half, the Tigers (7-3) went on a more than 10-minute stretch without a field goal, allowing the Cougars (9-0) to claw their way back into the game and ultimately earn the victory.
As a result of the loss, LSU will go an entire calendar year without a victory in an opponent’s building. The last time the Tigers defeated a team as the visiting team in a hostile environment came in Bud Walton Arena against Arkansas.
The next the they will get a chance to break the road losing streak will be in the same arena as LSU takes on the Razorbacks on Jan. 12, 2019.
LSU kept the game close until the final buzzer and had multiple chances to regain a late lead, but the Tigers took some ill-advised and deep 3-pointers in the final minutes while the Cougars seemingly couldn’t miss for much of the second half.
LSU coach Will Wade predicted his team’s game with Houston would be a physical test, and that proved to be accurate as the officials called a combined 51 fouls between the two teams.
With much of the first half tightly contested, LSU pulled away from Houston with a 12-2 run to end the half thanks in large part to 3-pointers from Ja’vonte Smart and Skylar Mays. It’s the second consecutive game that duo has played a role in a big late-half run to give the Tigers a significant advantage at the break.
It looked as though the Tigers would carry that momentum into the second half with ease as they scored the first five points of the half to take a 15-point lead, their largest of the game.
But with a raucous crowd vocally frustrated with the officiating in the game to that point, the Cougars stormed back with a 13-3 run of their own that cut LSU’s lead to five points early in the half.
Houston completed the comeback and took its first lead of the half with just less than eight minutes remaining in the game on a Nate Hinton dunk, and the Cougars never trailed again for the rest of the game.
Despite struggling in the second half, Ja’vonte Smart led the Tigers with 18 pints while shooting 6 for 14 from the field. Naz Reid scored 13 points and Tremont Waters finished with 10 points despite shooting 3 for 13 from the field and 1 for 9 from the 3-point line. Many of those attempted 3-pointers came in the final minutes of the game.
Marlon Taylor also earned a double-digit scoring tally with 11 points off the bench thanks in large part to shooting 9 for 11 from the free throw line.
Galen Robinson led Houston shooting 7 for 15 for 18 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds.
LSU will now travel to Las Vegas for a matchup Saturday against St. Mary’s which enters the game on a 4-game win streak after defeating Cal State Fullerton 81-66 on Monday.