BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
LSU sophomore guard Adam “Ace” Miller got a bit excited when his Tigers downed Arkansas 60-57 in Baton Rouge on Dec. 28 in both team’s SEC opener and took to Twitter soon after.
“We in Fay @ Ville next time bring y’all smoke we gone run through it,” Miller tweeted.
Miller got his wish on Tuesday night at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville as the Razorbacks went on a 23-2 run to end the first half en route to routing LSU 60-40.
“We were always back on our heels trying to get our man transition defense set and they are they are just too talented for us in the open floor,” LSU head coach Matt McMahon said.
The smoke was greeted with the the lowest scoring output by an Arkansas opponent this season and the lowest LSU has had in an SEC game in seven seasons.
McMahon, in his first season at LSU after a successful run at Murray State, was very blunt about his team’s performance before intermission, which included a 3 of 25 shooting performance and 10 of its 15 turnovers.
The Tigers (13-8, 1-7), playing without Arkansas native Justice Hill, have not won since downing the Razorbacks (14-6, 3-5) in the earlier game.
“It’s the conversation no one wants to hear, but..in the first half, we just couldn’t finish at the rim and the turnovers killed us,” McMahon said.
“…When you turn it over 10 times and miss 22 of you 25 shots against an elite transition offensive team, you are in big trouble.”
McMahon notes his team got away from the formula it needs to win in the first half.
The Tigers did get back in the game somewhat by scoring 12 of the second half’s first 14 points, but could never get its deficit to under double digits.
“We have a pretty simple formula that would give us a chance,” McMahon said. “ You saw that some in the second half. We were able to execute and finish some plays, not have the crazy turnovers that led to transition. What that enables you to do is set your defense.
“Second half, we were able to finish a few plays, make a few shots and set our defense and were pretty effective in our half court defense.”
Arkansas’s transition offense was simply too much for cold-shooting LSU per McMahon.
“I thought we had multiple ones uncontested shots that they essential conceded that we were unable to covert and those are just back breakers, McMahon said.
“Because now you have (Arkansas 6-7 freshman point guard) Anthony Black, who is an NBA lottery pick, out in the open floor with a 3-on-2 or 4-on-3 or 2-on-ones and he makes you pay every time.”
Murray State transfer KJ Williams had 9 points and 11 rebounds to lead LSU while Miller, who was 3 of 12 from the field and 1 of 6 from 3-point range, added nine points.
LSU finished the night 14 of 54 on its field goal attempts, 1 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc and 11 of 16 at the free throw line.
Arkansas was 23 of 51 from the field, 5 of 13 from 3-point range and made 9 of its 12 charity tosses.
“We have played some really good basketball teams, but when you struggle to score, overall our toughness and our discipline to not make mistakes with the basketball, our connection as a team, communication on screens so there aren’t breakdowns,” McMahon said, “we have just got to do a better job of controlling those things that are more under our control to give ourselves a better chance.”
Photo courtesy of LSU Athletics