LSU falls to Tennessee at home, 78-63


In 16 of Tennessee’s 28 games, senior guard Josh Richardson has been the lightning rod for the Vols on offense, leading the team in scoring. On Wednesday night against the LSU Tigers, Richardson wasn’t the only one knocking down shots. 

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Richardson had a team-high 20 points to lead Tennessee (15-14, 7-10 Southeastern Conference) past LSU 78-63 inside Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Vols avenged their earlier loss to the Tigers back on Valentine’s Day in Knoxville, TN, where LSU won in dominating fashion, 73-55. The Vols are now winners of six straight against the Tigers in Baton Rouge, dating back to 2008.

Richardson’s help came from Armani Moore (19), Robert Hubbs III (12), and Kevin Punter (10).

Tennessee, under first-year coach Donnie Tyndall, outrebounded LSU 35-29 and won the points in the paint battle, 36-20, two categories the Tigers are accustomed to dominating from start to finish.

With the loss, LSU (21-9, 10-7) falls to fifth place in the SEC standings and may not be able to get back into the top four before the start of the SEC tournament as the Tigers have to go on the road to play No. 23 Arkansas in their regular season finale.

With no automatic NCAA tournament berth in sight, the Vols played like they were heading into March Madness, outscoring LSU 45-30 in the second half and shot 69.2 percent (18-of-26) from the field.

Coming out of the locker room, Tennessee turned up its energy on both ends of the floor. Each time Jordan Mickey or Jarell Martin had the basketball deep in the paint, the Vols swarmed over them and didn’t allow either player to look up in the rafters of PMAC.

Once Tennessee’s defense got comfortable, so did its offense.

The Vols went on a 17-5 run to take a 62-44 lead. LSU went close to eight minutes with a score until Keith Hornsby’s 3-pointer ended his team’s diminishing scoring spurt. Mickey seemed out of it at times and couldn’t muster any rhythm with a gang of Vols smothering him.

Mickey finished the night with nine points and eight rebounds.

On a night where a win or a loss wouldn’t hurt or help Tennessee’s season, the Vols came out going toe-to-toe against a LSU team that was riding a three-game winning streak. Tennessee, losers of its last five games, led 14-7 in the first six minutes after being down 7-3 at the 17:44 mark.

The Vols went on an 11-0 run early in the first half and Hubbs III was a big part of it, knocking down a mid-range jumper then followed up with a deep 3-pointer. Coach Johnny Jones’ team had a difficult task defending Richardson, who scored 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the first 20 minutes.

The Tigers, led by Martin, went on a short, quick 7-0 run to tie the game 14-all. Martin scored the final five points of the run that was capped by a three-point play.

For the rest of the half, both teams traded scores and Hornsby made back-to-back trips to the free throw line to tie the game at 33 heading into halftime. This one had seven ties and seven lead changes and was considered to be a trap game for LSU, which at times has played down to its competition.

The undermanned Tennessee team wasn’t intimidated by the size of the Tigers and forced LSU to score mostly from the perimeter instead of allowing the frontcourt of Mickey and Martin to dominate inside. The Vols’ 2-3 zone took care of Mickey and Martin, who combined to score just 13 points in the first 20 minutes.

Martin had 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting and pulled down five rebounds.

Hornsby was the only consistent scorer out of LSU’s backcourt, going 6-for-11 from the field, including 5-for-9 from deep for a team-high 25 points. After coming off a record-setting day Saturday against Ole Miss, Tim Quarterman shot 3-for-11 from the field for eight points and dished out seven assists.

Hopefully tonight’s loss won’t come back to haunt LSU, as the Tigers are not a lock for an NCAA bid just yet.