Third time’s the charm: Late-game troubles don’t stop LSU men’s hoops from advancing past Georgia

Third time's the charm: Late-game troubles don't stop LSU men's hoops from advancing past Georgia
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It looked like it was happening again.  

Leading up to its first-round matchup against Georgia, the Tigers had blown back-to-back double-digit leads against Missouri and Florida, the former of which was 20 at its peakThrough turnovers and poor offensive and defensive execution, they managed to all but erase their stellar first-half play from the minds of LSU fans everywhere. 

So, when it obtained another double-digit lead against the Bulldogs, it wasn’t much of a surprise whenever it was once again erased. The Tigers started the second half with back-to-back turnovers and Georgia slowly began to carve into its deficit. 

It was the same story, as LSU’s one turnover in the first half grew to a manageable five by the game’s conclusion, but its field goal percentage plummeted under 40%. At the 4:16 mark of the second half, the Bulldogs took their first lead since the 16:06 mark of the first. 

All signs pointed towards another blown game and with most of the Tiger starting lineup on the bench due to foul trouble or injury, the prospect of LSU advancing in the SEC Tournament wasn’t looking great. 

But unfortunately for Georgia, the game was still close. And just when it seemed like it was taking control of the game, one play reversed the outcome. 

With three minutes remaining, Adam Miller was fouled on a catch-and-shoot three and drilled it, making the free throw and giving the Tigers a two-point lead and new wave of momentum. From there, freshman Shawn Phillips stole the show. 

In what could best be described as the Shawn Phillips coming out party, the seven-footer finished with a career-high in points (13) and rebounds (10), securing his first career double-double. And down the stretch, he made a huge difference for LSU. 

After a failed putback from Trae Hannibal, Phillips grabbed the offensive rebound a few inches off the rim and slammed it home to give the Tigers the lead. Then, on the next defensive possession, he sent a Braelen Bridges layup home for his second and most important block of the game.  

“He’s really grown as the season’s gone along,” LSU head coach Matt McMahon told SEC Network after the game. “I thought he was really good in our ball-screen offense there in the first half especially. He just gives you a presence around the rim.” 

After the block, KJ Williams would finish the Bulldogs off on a beautiful hook shot, increasing LSU’s lead to four with 22 seconds remaining. He, Phillips and Trae Hannibal combined for 45 points and 29 rebounds on the night, with Hannibal also attributing his first double-double of the season.  

He spoke highly of McMahon following the game, admiring his energetic attitude in practice no matter how rough the season was going. He also discussed the team’s mentality heading into the SEC tournament and how McMahon affected it.

“It’s been a tough year, but we can’t go back and fix that now,” Hannibal said. “Coming into the tournament, he told us It’s 0-0, a clean slate, you have nothing to lose’.” 

LSU men’s basketball is back in action tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. CT, facing off against a red-hot Vanderbilt team that’s won eight of its last nine. That one loss came against LSU, so it isn’t outside the realm of possibility for them to pick up a victory there. 

As it was on Wednesday night, it’s win or go home.

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About Marc Lemoine 1865 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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