By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Johnny Jones promised change after LSU’s 95-78 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon, the Tigers’ second straight home defeat in which they’ve surrendered at least 95 points in SEC play.
That change, to lineups and to mindsets, can’t come soon enough for LSU (9-5, 1-2 SEC).
“We can’t settle for where we are and hope,” said Jones, whose team has now given up 50 points in a half in three of its last four games. “We’ve got to make changes, do things we weren’t planning on doing.”
“We’ve got to get better,” said Duop Reath, who led LSU with 19 points and 13 rebounds. “Lock in to the scouting report, trust what the coaches are saying.”
Aric Holman’s 17 points led the Bulldogs (10-4, 1-1 SEC), who shot 54 percent from the floor and 50 percent (11-of-22) from 3. Four others reached double figures, as State scored its most points in an SEC road game since 1963.
LSU held a 20-19 lead on a Branden Jenkins three with 9:53 left in the first half, but the Bulldogs outscored the hosts 33-13 the rest of the half, with two 11-0 runs fueled by over the final nine minutes for a 52-33 halftime lead.
“We have to find a way to come out with better intensity so we’re not starting slow,” said freshman guard Skylar Mays, who had 10 points and 5 assists, knocking down 2-of-3 from deep.
The Tigers fell behind by as much as 26 with 10 minutes left, and Jones turned to a four-guard lineup that trimmed the deficit to as little as 13. LSU outscored State 30-24 over the game’s final 9 minutes and hit six of its nine threes and 16 of its 29 field goals in the second half.
“We’ve been a second half team this year,” said Mays. “We’re trying to find ways to be a first and second half team.”
But it wasn’t enough to overcome State’s large lead, built heavily on 25 points off 14 LSU turnovers. The Tigers forced 14 turnovers also, but scored just 10 points off of them.
“We created offense for them with our bad offense,” said Antonio Blakeney, who scored 17 points, 12 after the break.
LSU returns to action on Wednesday at Texas A&M, who is 0-3 in the league a year after making a Sweet 16 appearance. Jones indicated the Tigers will implement more small ball lineups moving forward, but that his players are going to have to make internal adaptations to ensure any external tinkering takes hold.
“It’s about attitude adjustments,”he said. “They’ve got to put themselves in a position where they hate losing more than they love winning.”