LSU basketball upsets No. 11 South Carolina for first big win of Matt McMahon’s tenure

LSU men’s basketball went into South Carolina on Saturday and knocked off the No. 11 Gamecocks. You read that correctly: the Tigers beat a ranked opponent.
Feb 17, 2024; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; LSU Tigers bench players forward Adam Benhayoune (25)
Feb 17, 2024; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; LSU Tigers bench players forward Adam Benhayoune (25) / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Cue Al Pacino’s infamous Godfather quote, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” The quote immediately came to mind after the LSU basketball team upset No. 11 South Carolina 64-63 on Saturday.

Senior Jordan Wright hit a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining to seal the shocking victory in Columbia, South Carolina. Such is a stark contrast from last Wednesday when Wright whiffed on a free-throw attempt as the clock expired in Gainesville.

This time, it was the Gamecocks who failed to put the ball in net as time ran out.

Wright finished with 14 points, three assists, seven rebounds, and a pair of steals. Sophomore forward Tyrell Ward led LSU basketball in scoring with 16 points and an assist.

What’s most impressive was that Matt McMahon’s team rallied from being down 16 points. ESPN’s game recap mentions the Tigers being down 41-25 with less than 17 minutes remaining in the contest. Indeed, storming back against a ranked opponent on the road showed tremendous resiliency.

“I think our guys just stayed the course and found a way to get over the hump,” the LSU head coach said after the game.

It’s alarming that McMahon’s team repeatedly surrenders double-digit leads to opponents. However, today’s win is the most significant of his tenure in Baton Rouge.

After the Florida loss, I ranted that my optimism toward the LSU basketball program was waning. Who could blame me? Why did it take McMahon’s squad almost two regular seasons to topple a ranked opponent?

Perhaps Saturday’s win over South Carolina is the momentum LSU basketball needs to climb out of the SEC basement. I imagine McMahon’s roster is feeling very confident at the moment. We will see if such carries into their next game.

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LSU will welcome No. 22 Kentucky to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Wednesday night. The win over South Carolina moved LSU to 13-12 on the year, including a 5-7 record in SEC play.