Texas A&M rebounds to flip script on LSU and squeak past Tigers, 73-69

Jordan Wright led LSU with 15 points and added 10 rebounds, but the Tigers could not overcome their rebounding disadvantage and lost to Texas A&M in a rematch against the Aggies on Saturday in the PMAC. PHOTO BY: LSU ATHLETICS

LSU exactly two weeks ago flipped the script on Texas A&M in College Station, beating the then-heavily favored Aggies at their own game.

Saturday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Texas A&M flipped it back on the Tigers.

You could say the nation’s No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the country, Texas A&M, um, rebounded, to beat LSU, 73-69, in a close and bruising back-and-forth game.

Boy did the Aggies ever rebound.

LSU led most of the time, for nearly 22 minutes of the game’s 40 minutes, in a game that was tied four times and had seven lead changes.

LSU also outshot Texas A&M overall percentagewise, hit two more 3-pointers than the Aggies (11 bombs to 9), and was more efficient at the free throw line in a game that was extremely physical but had relatively few fouls called, all things considered.

But, where it mattered most, Texas A&M (11-7, 2-3 SEC) outrebounded LSU (11-7, 3-2) 43-30 overall and it was on the offensive glass where the Aggies literally wiped out the Tigers.

“Hard fought college basketball game,” LSU coach Matt McMahon said.

“Great credit to Texas A&M for doing the things they needed to do to get the win. Obviously, they flipped the script on us from the first matchup where we were 18-to-3 in second-chance points in our favor. Today, 27-to-zero was obviously the difference in the game.

“If you look at our defensive effort, I thought our energy and effort, all of that was great. Probably held them in their first shot of possession somewhere around 29-30% from the floor, but could not finish the possessions with rebounds, especially there in the second half. We have been able to turn people over averaging 10 steals a game; we only had one today. We did not turn it over a lot, but we were only able to force six there. Credit to them for getting the win here today,” McMahon said.

With a 21-6 advantage in offensive rebounding, Texas A&M ended up skunking LSU, 27-0, in second-chance points.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen before,” McMahon said. “You can’t expect to win a game with a stat line like that.”

In fact, LSU had not given up 20 second-chance points to any team this season, much less been completely shut out in that category.

On Jan. 6 in College Station when LSU upset Texas A&M, 68-53, the Tigers not only outrebounded the Aggies overall, on both ends of the floor – offensively and defensively, LSU also had an 18-3 second chance-points scoring advantage over Texas A&M on that day.

On Saturday afternoon, LSU held Wade Taylor IV, the leading scorer in the SEC, to no points in the first half because Taylor picked up two fouls in the first five minutes of the game and sat most of the first 20 minute out.

Taylor, however, made four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 19 points to lead Texas A&M in the second half.

But that’s only part of the Taylor story.

Taylor was only 6 of 14 shooting in the second half, 4 of 9 from 3-point land, but the Aggies literally rebounded nearly every one of his misses and put them back in for points, especially the missed 3s.

Taylor added five rebounds and four assists for the Aggies.

Tyrece Radford totaled 15 points and nine rebounds. Jace Carter scored 13 with six rebounds. Andersson Garcia had 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Aggies.

Jordan Wright put up his second double-double this season for LSU, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead the Tigers.

Wright scored 10 points in the first half as LSU led, 35-33, at the half. Wright scored eight points in the first nine minutes of the game and had five of LSU’s first nine points of the game.

Jalen Cook added 12 points, while freshman Mike Williams III made three 3-pointers and scored 11. Jalen Reed and Tyrell Ward each had 10 points apiece.

LSU jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first few minutes but Texas A&M took its first lead at 29-28 on a Radford 3-pointer with 3:39 remaining in the first half.

Ward answered quickly with a two-hand jam, Williams hit from beyond the arc and LSU took its 35-33 lead into halftime.

Taylor followed an early second-half 3-pointer with a jumper and a layup in a personal 7-0 run and the Aggies moved out in front 42-38 less than three minutes into the second half. Texas A&M pushed its lead to seven before Reed hit a 3-pointer and Wright had a layup to cap a 10-1 run for LSU as the Tigers took a 54-52 lead with 11:10 left to play.

Taylor answered with a go-ahead 3-pointer and Garcia and Radford added layups in another 7-0 run Texas A&M took a 59-54 lead with 8:47 remaining.

LSU tied the game, 67-67, on a layup by Ward with 4:09 left in the game.

“I thought we did some things differently prior to the shot, which was effective. Then they started to attack those things. Coach (LSU’s Matt McMahon) is a really good coach. Their ATO (after timeout) score was good … I think initially those things were healthy for us, but then they started attacking it,” Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said.

Taylor responded by stroking another 3-pointer with 2:56 to go and followed a Reed basket for LSU with two free throws with only 43 seconds left to play.

Cook missed two 3-pointers on LSU’s next possession and Solomon Washington made the first of two foul shots with four seconds to go to make it a two-possession game, 73-69.

What They Said

Graduate Student Guard Jordan Wright

On the final shot with 12 seconds left…

“We were trying to come off a screen and get a corner three there, but they kind of zoned it up on us. I mean, took it away. We tried to get to our second option. I could’ve driven it to the left, which would’ve been a flare on the other side. They did a really good job guarding it; hats off to them. They played their defense well and they guarded it well. We had to get a shot up there, and it’s a shot I’ve seen [Jalen] Cook make.”

On the student section and environment’s impact on the team’s morale..

“Yeah, it was great. The students really showed out tonight, again, for the second game in a row. They brought us energy, especially late. When I made that three in the corner, the gym really came alive, or when we came down, Tyrell [Ward] made that big bucket to tie it up 67-67. They were really there; they really supported us tonight. The gym was extremely loud, the loudest game we’ve had. So, hats off to the students, thank you guys for coming out. But yeah, it was great for us. They gave us some momentum, helped push the energy back in our favor a couple of times late there in the game. We ultimately couldn’t pull it out, but they were huge for us.”

On what Texas A&M changed in the final three minutes to stop LSU…

“Honestly, I think it was lack of poise on our end. I took a bad shot early in the clock when I didn’t need to. Jalen [Cook] came down, took an early one. I think as older guards, older players on this team, we have to do a better job of making sure we execute our entire set. We didn’t even allow them to run the clock. We didn’t let our play develop. We just took two early shots in the clock. So, I wouldn’t necessarily say they play defense better, I just think we have to have better poise there as older guys. As a fifth-year guy, I have to be better down the stretch there, get us into position and ultimately pick my spots better: when to attack and when to get off the ball there.”

Sophomore Forward Jalen Reed

On if the rebound disparity comes down to effort…

“Rebounding is more about effort and toughness than it is technique, skill or anything like that. So, give A&M the credit. They came in here and rebounded really well. I felt like in the second half we didn’t have an answer for them, chasing down 50-50 balls and things like that. But, we’ll be back in the gym this week and get that all fixed up so this doesn’t happen again.”

On what led to the rebounding disparity this time since they won that battle in the previous meeting…

“They crashed really hard. They sent a lot of people to the glass, and I mean, I wish I had. I felt like we were boxing out, but they just beat us on the 50/50 balls and on the rebounding today.”

On battling the effect of losing in second-chance points…

“I mean, we’ve just got to get back to work to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We can’t win if we let the other team get 27 second-chance points and we get zero. That isn’t a good representation of who we are as a team and what we do. Usually it’s us getting to the offensive rebounds, and we didn’t really get to the boards as well this game.”

On Texas A&M’s change in physicality from the first meeting to the second half today…

“Right. I don’t really feel like there was much of a difference between the first time and the second time, in terms of how they were crashing. But tonight, we just weren’t getting them. I really wish I had an answer for why. We were boxing out, but there were just a lot of bodies in there. The ball was flying around, they were tipping it out, so it was really difficult to get a hold of the ball today.”

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Todd Horne

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