From start to finish it was a difficult showing for the Tigers in their 59-54 loss to the Iowa State Cyclones. With LSU looking to conquer the first round of the NCAA Tournament without Will Wade, the offensive struggles plagued them in all 40 minutes.
It was the battle of the turnovers in this one. A Cyclone team who prides themselves on their exceptional defense, this gritty group showed up with something to prove on that end of the floor, forcing 19 LSU turnovers.
Giving the ball away played a major factor in the Tigers downfall, but inability to get buckets to go down was a huge piece of the puzzle. Starting off the game shooting 2-for-8 from the field, LSU couldn’t get anything to go their way both inside and out.
The Cyclones paint presence gave the Tigers fits all night, racking up blocks consistently and forcing LSU to get out of sorts offensively. With Efton Reid really struggling to get into a rhythm, being held to just four points, getting the ball in the paint simply wasn’t an option.
A 15-3 run by Iowa State throughout the first half ballooned their lead to 12 points, but Darius Days continued to show the growth in his game, both playmaking for others and getting timely buckets to halt the hot streak.
Going into the break, it looked like the Tigers could crawl their way back into things, trailing just 24-19 at the half, but the turnover issues showed no mercy. Totaling 10 turnovers in the first half, adding to one of their worst shooting performances of the season, it just wasn’t LSU’s night.Scroll to Continue
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Down the stretch, the Bayou Bengals showed signs of life, cutting the lead to just one with under two minutes remaining,but struggling to get into their offensive sets continued to reign supreme for head coach Kevin Nickelberry’s group.
For the Cyclones, it was the Tyrese Hunter show. Knocking down seven triples, including the dagger to seal Iowa State’s victory, the Tigers had no answer for the sniper from deep. Totaling 23 points, with 18 of them in the second half, on 7-of-11 from three, Hunter’s timely buckets halted any progress LSU made in the final five minutes.
Add in the tremendous play from Izaiah Brockington, the Cyclones go-to-guy all season, his 19 points bolstered Iowa State to a round one victory.
It was a disastrous day at the office for LSU. Shooting 21% from three, knocking down just four of their 19 attempts, the struggles continued.
A bright spot in this one was senior Darius Days. Displaying his leadership ability and at times putting the team on his back, Days capped off his LSU career with his head held high. Scoring 14 points while tallying a whopping 12 rebounds, Days picked up the slack when others couldn’t.
It wasn’t a pretty win for the Cyclones by any means, but enough to get by is all it takes in the NCAA Tournament. Hitting timely buckets down the stretch and seemingly stealing the ball at will, it was Iowa State’s night in this one.
Now, the focus shifts to the future of this LSU program. With the Will Wade era in the rearview mirror and tremendousuncertainty surrounding this squad, it’s going to be an eventful offseason as a myriad of changes begin to unfold.