The LSU men's basketball team was handed its third straight loss to open SEC play and dropped an 82-73 overtime decision to South Carolina Wednesday at the Maravich Center.
Anthony Hickey came up big for the Tigers but it was not enough
Anthony Hickey poured in 15 of his team-leading 18 points during the second half and overtime to lead the Tigers (9-5, 0-3 SEC). He grabbed seven rebounds to match a career-high and handed out four assists. For Hickey, it marked the sixth straight game he reached double figures.
Charles Carmouche added 13 points and five assists, while Johnny O'Bryant III and Andre Stringer chipped in nine points apiece. Andrew Del Piero came away with seven points to go along with five rebounds. Off the bench, Malik Morgan tacked on a solid all-around performance with seven points, five rebounds and a career-best four assists.
With the score tied at 69-69, LSU had an opportunity to win the contest in regulation after a Hickey steal. He drove the lane and kicked the ball out to O'Bryant III who misfired on a 16-foot jumper at the right elbow.
"Johnny (O'Bryant III) was going to set a pick for me,” said Hickey. “I was going to come off of it, just create and try to get to the basket. I knew they were going to double me so I kicked the ball back to Johnny."
South Carolina (11-5, 1-2 SEC) rode Michael Carrera during the extra session. He knocked down a pair of jumpers, the second one coming with the clock running down with 56 seconds left. After Carmouche missed a three-point attempt, Carrera buried all six of his foul shots over the final 39 seconds to vault the Gamecocks to the 82-73 win.
"I just thought that, unfortunately for us, they made the tough plays down the stretch, which was needed for them,” said LSU head coach Johnny Jones. “Especially when you get in overtime, you want to strike first. We didn't, and they wound up getting up four. We had to fight back.
“After fighting back and putting ourselves in a position in the end, even in the regulation, I was hoping we didn't get into the overtime. We needed to just make a tough play to get it toward the basket or get some of our perimeter guys spotting up shooting. We didn't execute what we needed to in regulation, and we've definitely got to make sure we clean that up."
Carrera's 23 points were a career-best, and he secured 10 rebounds en route to his third double-double of the season. The Gamecocks also received double figures from Brenton Williams (16 points), Lakeem Jackson (11 points) and R.J. Slawson (11 points).
LSU jumped out to a 9-4 lead with 16:14 remaining in the first half. Carmouche and O'Bryant III connected for a triple and lay-up on consecutive possessions to break the early 4-4 tie.
With the Tigers ahead 17-15 at the 11:29 mark, South Carolina pieced together 19 of the next 26 points to snatch its largest lead at 34-24. Williams sparked the Gamecocks with nine points during the spurt.
LSU charged back behind an intense defensive effort to close out the opening half and held South Carolina without a field over the final 4:46. Conversely, the Tigers ripped off a 9-1 run to draw back within 35-33 at the intermission. Stringer notched a three-point play to ignite followed by a Del Piero free throw, a Hickey triple and a Morgan lay-up in transition.
"I thought they played exactly how they possibly needed to play,” Jones said. “We knew it was going to be a tough, hard fought battle going in. I thought we did a good job of holding them in terms of lower field goal percentage there in the first half. We shot it better in the first half.
The Tigers used eight straight points from Hickey fueled by back-to-back triples to regain a 49-44 lead with 14:44 left during the second half.
The advantage was short-lived as Carrera and Slawson accounted for 14 of the next 18 points for the Gamecocks over the next eight minutes to give South Carolina a 62-58 edge.
Down 64-60, LSU answered the bell as Stringer nailed a jumper and Carmouche nailed a triple on consecutive possessions to give LSU a one-point advantage at the 4:53 mark.
Two minutes later, the Tigers went up 69-65 after a Hickey lay-up and an O'Bryant III tip in. South Carolina fought back with a Carrera lay-up and two Williams free throws to deadlock the score at 69-69.
“We just didn't come down and finish after we had a four point lead and get big rebounds to finish off the game there at about two minutes left,” said Jones. “Credit goes to South Carolina. They played extremely well, played hard.
“They turned us over 22 times, only had 15 turnovers as a team, and knocked down necessary free throws at the free throw line to put them in a situation to get a victory. I think they shot 38 free throws tonight, meaning they were aggressively attacking the basket. We didn't do a great enough job of defending and making them play over the top of us."
LSU heads back on the road Saturday at Georgia. Tip time is on-tap for 7 p.m. CT, and the game will be carried live by Cox Sports Television (CST)/Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS).
LSU's next home game will be next Wednesday as Texas A&M will make its inaugural trip to the Maravich Center as a member of the SEC.
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