RICHMOND, Va. (WAFB) - The LSU Tigers tried to get themselves out of a 15-point first half hole rallying to take the led late, before falling 84-82 to VCU.
This game was the first in home-and-home series between the two schools based on a contract requirement when LSU coach Will Wade left VCU to coach at LSU. The two teams will meet next year in Baton Rouge.
The Tigers were hurt by 26 turnovers and 25 fouls, but LSU was still able to rally back in the second half and take an 82-81 lead with 41 seconds left on two Skylar Mays free throws.
On the next VCU possession, De’Rante Jenkins was fouled attempting a three-pointer with 26 seconds to play, sending him to the line for three free throws. Jenkins missed the first one but made the second and third to give the Rams back the lead, 83-82.
Mays drove for the goal on the next possession, missed, but got his own rebound. His next effort was blocked but Aundre Hyatt got credit for the offensive board with just under 10 seconds to play when a jump ball was called.
LSU took its last timeout to set up a final play. But LSU was unable to convert on the play, VCU made a free throw and LSU turned the ball over with 0.2 remaining to end any chance of getting back even in the game.
Mays led LSU with 23 points and for the second straight game had eight rebounds, which led the team. Four other Tigers were in double figures with Javonte Smart getting 15, Trendon Watford 11 and Darius Days and Charles Manning Jr., scoring 10 each.
Five players were also in double figures for VCU with Marcus Santos-Silva getting 17 points and 11 rebounds. Jenkins and Marcus Evans each had 15 points, while Isaac Vann and Vince Williams had 11 points each.
LSU had a rare loss when shooting over 50 percent, making 31-of-60 for 51.7 percent, while the Rams were 26-of-63 for 41.3 percent after shooting just 30 percent in the second half. LSU was out rebounded 39-32. LSU had a 46-30 points in the paint advantage, but VCU was able to get 37 points off LSU’s 26 turnovers, compared to just 13 for LSU off the 16 Ram turnovers.
The Rams took control of the game in the final 2:54 of the first half, up 39-33. Vann, Evans and Williams hit back-to-back-to-back triples while LSU missed a shot and turned it over twice. That pushed the lead to 48-33 with 1:15 to go before Watford hit a trey to close out the first half scoring and send the sellout crowd to the half happy, up 48-36.
LSU got its offensive act going in the second half, down 14, 62-48 with 15:32 to play.
Days made a layup, VCU missed and Smart had a layup to cut the game to 10. Days would get another bucket to cut it to eight and Mays hit a jumper to make it 62-56 with 14:11 to go. Coming up the court VCU turned the ball over and Smart hit a three-pointer to cut it to 62-59 with 13:56 left.
LSU would eventually get the game back to one, 64-63, on a Smart bucket with 12:20 left and eventually tied the game back after being down 15 at 67-67 on an Emmitt Williams dunk with 8:55 left.
LSU let the lead go back to seven in the latter stages of the second half, but still down seven with 2:11 left, the Tigers got things back to their side but left several possessions empty in the final 10 minutes that could have helped the cause.
LSU made seven treys to nine for VCU and the Rams were 23-of-29 from the free throw line compared to 13-of-17 for the Tigers.
LSU, 1-1 will host Nicholls State at 3:00 P.M. Saturday in the PMAC.