Coach Johnny Jones and his Tigers went into Tad Smith and grabbed a huge road win Thursday night against the Rebels, led by some clutch plays from Keith Hornsby, Josh Gray and wait for it…Jarell Martin! For LSU basketball, it’s the first SEC road win on the year.
LSU struggled early and there were back and forth runs from both teams in the first half, but after a little more then a third of the way through the second half LSU took the lead and never looked back. The Tigers improve to 13-3, 2-1 with a 75-71 win over the Rebels.
Coming off a thrilling 2OT win against Georgia, where Martin shot a morbid 3-of-10 for 7 points, he came out tonight with a nice bounceback game with 18 points and 14 rebounds. He was very active in the paint both backing down for shots and going up for boards.
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We knew coming into the game that other players would have to step up to help out the dynamic duo of Martin and Mickey. Hornsby and Gray did just that and then some tonight combining for 37 points.
I’d like to welcome you to the Hornsby show. He was all over the court in the second half making plays when LSU needed them. He dropped an absolute clutch three-pointer with just over two minutes left. He finished the night shooting 6-of-13 and 5-of-10 from three with 5 rebounds and 23 points. After a poor shooting game in Georgia it was great to see Hornsby get into a rhythm early, and he has such a quick catch and release that silenced the Rebel fans often in the second half. After the game Hornsby got a few seconds to talk about his play:
"“The shots we were getting in the first half, we knew we could make, so we just had to keep doing the same thing and trust that they were going to go in,” Hornsby said. “We did exactly that and made them in the second half.”"
In all four Tigers finished in double digits to include the above mentioned as well as Mickey with 11 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks and Gray with 14 points and 10 assists.
The first half was a carousel of runs, LSU would go on a 6-0 run and take the lead, followed by Ole Miss and repeat. At the half Martin lead LSU shooting 5-of-7 from the field for 10 points and 8 rebounds. He has really found a groove tonight and shot very well from mid-range.
Tim Quarterman and Hornsby’s length frustrated Moody going into the half shooting 1-of-7 from the field, and as a team Ole Miss shot only 30 percent. LSU finished the half shooting 42 percent from the field and outrebounding Ole Miss 27 to 17.
Gray came out the second half absolutely balling, scoring 4 points in short work; one of the scores off a steal from Moody that he took down the court for an easy layup putting LSU up by 8. Gray was seeing the court really well tonight shooting 5-of-7 now with 12 points just a minute into the second half.
With 1:42 left in the game Coleby drove in the lane for an easy layup, putting the Rebels within 4 and Ole Miss instantly called a timeout. At this point it felt like the momentum was shifting and another dreaded overtime might loom in the future. Immediately coming off the timeout Gray brought the ball down the court passed to Hornsby in the corner, who threw a nice pass to Martin in the paint for a layup putting LSU up, 71-65. The Rebels responded fairly quickly with Moody driving in for a layup and putting them back within 4 points. The Tigers brought the ball down the court and Mickey shot and missed on a jumper, and Gray came up with the offensive rebound forcing Ole Miss to foul.
The longest minute of the game was the last minute, as the referees had to stop play on two separate occasions to look at replay. Most notably with 17 seconds remaining Martin tried to inbound the ball to Hornsby in the corner who turned over the ball. Then, Ole Miss inbounded the ball twice and stepped out of bounds lining up a three in the exact same corner both times.
Gray went to the line in the bonus and sinks 1-of-2 putting LSU up 73-69 with 27 seconds left. Summers tried to respond for Ole Miss with a fast break layup but Mickey is an absolute monster and rejected the ball somewhere in the upper level never to be found again.
Ole Miss was in desperation mode and a majority of their fans have beat feet. With 5 seconds left the ball was inbounded to Hornsby and immediately fouled. He stepped to the line and knocked down both free throws sealing the game. Ole Miss took the ball down the court with seconds left just to have Mickey swat away their dreams again.
LSU finished the night shooting 43 percent from the field and 30 percent from three. After 7 early first half turnovers the Tigers slowed down and finished the night with 15. It is very exciting to see different players stepping up each night and carrying the load. This is diversity that LSU is going to need down this long SEC road.
Although they had some small stretches where they struggled against the 2-3 zone, overall they have definitely improved and learned from the OT loss against Mizzou. This team has the potential to do some great things and I am looking forward to seeing them against Florida and Kentucky in the upcoming weeks.
LSU heads home after tonight’s win for an 11 a.m. CST contest Saturday in the PMAC against a 10-5, 1-2 Texas A&M team. CJJ and this team are really doing some things we haven’t seen in while – lets get out their Tiger fans and pack that PMAC!
Check back Friday for our Texas A&M preview and prediction.