Tremont Waters’ habit for heroics helped LSU complete a 15-point comeback and forced overtime in Columbia.
His clutch three-pointer to force overtime was the last thing worth celebrating for the Tigers, however, as South Carolina scored the first nine points of extra time and won running away, xx-xx , handing LSU its seventh straight road defeat, all but squashing their at-large NCAA Tournament hopes, and putting their NIT aspirations in peril, too.
Down 15 with eight minutes to go, the Tigers used a trapping 1-3-1 to key a 10-0 run over 49 seconds, setting the stage for Waters’ momentary heroics. The freshman, already with a game-winning 3 at Texas A&M, game-winning block against Houston, and game-winning assist against Michigan, hit a deep one from the right wing to tie the score at 72 and force overtime.
They would be the last of his 19 points, however, and LSU would get only a Brandon Sampson tip-in in the final five minutes of play.
South Carolina got 25 points from Frank Booker, who hit 6-of-7 from 3, and 23 points from Wesley Meyers. Hassani Gravett, scoreless in regulation, came through in overtime, scoring the first six points and setting the Gamecocks on the path to victory.
Skylar Mays scored 12 points, with 7 rebounds and 6 assists for LSU, who falls to 16-13 overall and 7-10 in the SEC.
LSU was without starting guard Daryl Edwards, who was sidelined with an injury. Edwards, one of LSU’s best defenders, was missed, as the Gamecocks shot 52 percent from 3.
“When you’re missing one of your major defenders and playing guys who don’t care nearly as much about defense…it makes it tough,” Wade said.
The Tigers also left plenty of points on the board, making just 12-of-23 layups.
“We couldn’t overcome our mistakes,” Wade said. “We missed so much stuff at the rim. We’ve got to finish. We don’t do enough winning things when it really counts. That stuff adds up and kills you.”
LSU’s best stretch came when it switched from man to 1-3-1. That helped create several of South Carolina’s 13 turnovers, as LSU scored 10 points in less than 50 seconds to take a 62-47 deficit and turn it into 62-57 quickly.
“We didn’t have much of a choice,” Wade said. “They were cutting us up in man. We couldn’t guard the bounce. We couldn’t stay with Booker. We had to do something to change it up. I thought our 1 defense was good.”