Johnny O'Bryant III turned in another solid performance with 24 points to go along with eight rebounds, but the LSU men's basketball team fell, 82-72, to Tennessee Tuesday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
LSU ran into a hot Tennessee club
For O'Bryant III, he knocked down 9-of-16 from the floor and eclipsed the 20-point plateau for the third time in his last four outings. He tallied 13 of his team-leading 24 points during the second half.
Shavon Coleman added seven points whereas Andrew Del Piero came away with five points and six rebounds.
The Tigers (15-9, 6-7 SEC), playing their third game over the last six days, have lost only three times since January 23. As a team, LSU registered a 45.6 shooting effort (26-of-57) and hit only 33.3 percent of its treys (6-of-18).
Tennessee (15-10, 7-6 SEC) won its fourth straight game and fifth consecutive decision over the Tigers dating back to the 2008-09 season. The Volunteers connected for a crisp 57.4 shooting clip (27-of-27) sparked by a 66.7 ratio (10-of-15) from three-point territory.
Tennessee was led by Trae Golden, Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes. The trio accounted for 67 of the team's 82 points and nailed 20 of the squad's 27 field goals.
McRae exploded for a career-best 34 points aided by a perfect 6-for-6 on three-pointers. Golden totaled 20 points and dished out a game-leading eight assists. Stokes cleared 13 points and 11 rebounds to claim his 11th double-double of the season, tying him with O'Bryant III for the SEC lead.
"I thought we tried just about everything that we possibly could, we ran at them, tried to double them, tried to run the ball out of their hand, but they did an excellent job of jumping up and hitting threes,” said LSU head coach Johnny Jones. “We ran the press and forced them to take early shots and they had success knocking those shots down as well.
“They were just comfortable and got in a rhythm. We went zone and tried to make sure they had to take shots over the top and they hit those shots too. When we made our run they did a great job in terms of settling down and coming back and making big plays."
LSU grabbed a 9-6 edge during the game's opening minutes on a Morgan triple from the top of the key with 15:51 remaining.
Over the next seven minutes off the clock, Tennessee seized the momentum and ripped off 19 of the next 25 points to grab a 25-15 advantage. McRae ignited the run with a jumper and fired off 12 points in all during the spurt.
LSU charged back to within 29-25 on a Hickey trey at the 4:07 mark. However, the Volunteers countered with another flurry, 11 of the final 16 points of the stanza. Golden provided five of those points as Tennessee took a 40-30 advantage into the locker room.
After the Volunteers canned a trio of three-pointers to start the second half, LSU cut the margin down to 51-45 on an O'Bryant III lay-up off a beautiful dish from Stringer with 13:06 to go.
McRae responded with another three-ball and a dunk to put Tennessee back up by nine, 56-47, with 10:43 left.
The Tigers would pull back to six points on two more occasions, 66-60 after a Hickey steal and lay-up at the 5:46 mark and 71-65 following a Hickey trey with 4:11 on the clock. Each time, McRae answered with critical baskets on Tennessee's next possession.
LSU squares off with Alabama for the second time in a 14-day span Saturday at the Maravich Center. Tip time is set for 12:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by the SEC Network.