Missouri responded to a dominant first half from LSU with a furious second half push of its own, allowing the Tigers to claim an 81-76 win in Baton Rouge on Wednesday.
This was Mizzou’s first ever win on the road against LSU, and the victory made this the best season the Missouri program has had since 2013-14.
“We were down for 36 minutes of that game, and we were able to edge out a victory,” Dennis Gates said. “It’s magical, it’s March, it’s madness, all in the same breath. Happy first of the month.”
The Bayou Bengals entered this game shooting at a 33% clip on average from 3-point land. They shot 50% on the night, as all of the stars seemed to align for the Bayou Bengals’ last home game.
But after watching LSU shoot the lights out in the first half, Missouri (22-8, 10-7) responded in the second half. The visiting Tigers shot 51.5% from the floor and scored 13 points off of 10 LSU turnovers in the final half.
D’Moi Hodge and DeAndre Gholston starred tonight. They combined for 43 points and knocked down countless tough jumpers, while Noah Carter added on 13 points and seven rebounds.
Trailing 47-34 at halftime and having faced a 19-point deficit in the first half, Missouri came out swinging in the second. They opened on an 11-2 run behind six points from Gholston, and they forced LSU into seven turnovers in the first three minutes. The early second half surge was reminiscent of the Georgia game on Saturday.
“He’s [Gholston] big time, that’s what he does,” Dennis Gates said. “I truly believe that’s who he is. An aggressive player on the offensive end.”
Hodge continued to make a major impact on the defensive end. He hounded the LSU guards and recorded five steals on the night, breaking the Missouri record for steals in a single season. In the second half, his effort in that regard sparked the rest of the team.
“I knew, in my heart, that for us to be successful, we need a player on the All-Defensive Team,” Gates said. “I truly belive D’Moi is that person.”
LSU (13-17, 2-15) claimed a 57-48 lead at the 14:08 mark, but a 12-2 run for Mizzou tied the game. Hodge closed the scoring run with two 3-pointers, as he continued to lead the team from both ends of the floor.
The Tiger teams traded buckets over the next couple of minutes, with KJ Williams really taking over on the offensive end for the Bayou Bengals. He finished with a game-high 24 points.
Mizzou failed to score for 2:22, and LSU took advantage by claiming a 72-66 lead at the 5:39 mark.
Then, Missouri rallied to claim its first lead of the game with 1:37 remaining, shifting the momentum for good.
LSU had the ball with 36 seconds left, trailing 77-74. Fittingly, Missouri recorded its final steal of the night off of a mistake by Adam Miller, and Sean East II hit a pair of free throws to effectively ice game.
The start of this one set the tone for the intriguing game that was to follow.
LSU walk-on senior Parker Edwards had played just one minute this season prior to Wednesday night. He got the start against Mizzou as a part of the senior night festivities, and Edwards’ surprising pair of early 3-pointers seemed to set the tone of the first half of this game.
As a team, the Bayou Bengals shot 7-for-10 from behind the arc to start this game, and a normally stagnant offense seemed to catch fire against Missouri early on.
Aidan Shaw cut the LSU lead to 18-14 with a 3-pointer at the 11:18 mark of the first half, but Mizzou was never able to cut the lead to less than that in the opening half. The perimeter shots continued to fall for LSU, and for seemingly the first time this season, Mizzou could not keep up in a track meet.
LSU led Missouri 47-34 at halftime, and the visiting (black & gold) Tigers shot a paltry 33.3% from behind the arc compared to the home team’s sizzling 73.3%. That was the only glaring statistical difference between these two teams at the break, as Mizzou matched LSU in every other facet of the game.
Despite entering this game as a less-than-stellar shooting team, the Bayou Bengals got plenty of open looks in the first half, and they made Mizzou pay for its sloppy defense.
Williams and Adam Miller combined for 29 points in the opening period, with both of them shooting above their typical 3-point shooting averages.
The Tigers will celebrate their own Senior Day and close the regular season with a home game against Ole Miss (11-19, 3-14) on Saturday. Missouri beat the Rebels 89-77 on Jan. 24 in Oxford. The game can be seen on the SEC Network at 2:30 p.m. CST.