Absent four bench players – including two significant contributors – LSU fell decisively in Tennessee, 84-61, its second straight road loss of more than 20 points.
Duop Reath scored 21 points to lead the Tigers (12-9, 3-6 SEC), who have now lost five of six in the SEC. This loss came without Brandon Rachal and Wayde Sims, who were suspended one game, and Mayan Kiir and Galen Alexander, who Will Wade dismissed from the team for the season earlier in the week.
Tennessee (16-5, 6-3 SEC) got 17 points from reserve James Daniel, part of a 44-8 advantage in bench points. Grant Williams added 16 points and 6 rebounds, and Jordan Bone tossed in 12 points and 8 of Tennesse’s 24 assists on 33 made field goals.
LSU kept things close early, trailing only 9-8 after the first four minutes thanks to four quick points from Reath. The Volunteers reeled off a 14-2 run, featuring back-to-back threes from Jalen Johnson and James Daniel, before Aaron Epps hit a corner three and Reath finished through a foul and hit the free throw to cut the hosts’ lead to 19-14 halfway through the first.
Tennessee extended the lead back to double figures twice, on threes from Lamonte Turner and Admiral Schofield. Grant Williams, after exiting briefly early with a minor back issue, returned to score eight of his 10 first-half points after the 6:35 mark. His layup with 27 seconds left sent the Vols into the locker room up 42-31.
Of the 18 field goals Tennessee made in the first half, 14 were assisted, and the Volunteers’ bench outscored LSU short-handed bench 17-2 in the first 20 minutes.
A back-and-forth start to the second kept LSU tight, and four Skylar Mays free throws got the Tigers back within seven after six minutes of second half action. A slashing Daryl Edwards slashed the deficit to 53-47, before a James Daniel three and a Derrick Walker dunk capped off an 8-2 Tennessee run, extended the lead to 61-49 with 9:12 to go.
The lead grew to 16 on another Daniel three before Reath and Onwuasor scored back-to-back for a 65-53 LSU disadvantage with less than seven minutes remaining. Daniel then dialed up two more back-breaking threes in a minute to push the lead near 20, ending any hope of a Tiger comeback.