Home Sports College Men’s college basketball: LSU slips past Tech

Men’s college basketball: LSU slips past Tech

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Kane McGuire
La. Tech Assistant Director Athletic Communications

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Tech men’s basketball team went toe-to-toe with No. 22 LSU in a rare meeting on the hardwood, but the Bulldogs ended up falling to the Tigers on Friday night by a final score of 74-67 in front of 9,557 fans inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The effort and the energy was there for Tech (3-1) as it has been every game so far this 2018-19 season. The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle yet again despite the length and size of the Tigers and held them to a season low in scoring (was averaging 92.0 points per game).

Tech also got a couple of great individual performances on offense by the sophomore duo of Anthony Duruji and Exavian Christon, combining to score 37 points. However, it was the 17 turnovers that proved to be the difference as LSU (4-0) turned those into 22 points.

“Our guys came here fully expecting to win,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “We are disappointed that we fell short of that. No question, I thought we played really, really hard. It was the turnovers for us. We left a lot of shots out on the court by not taking care of the basketball enough. You have to give LSU credit because they did a lot of things to make that challenging tonight.”

Christon came out firing for the ‘Dogs, hitting his first three triples to give his team an early 13-12 advantage. After a made layup by sophomore Amorie Archibald made it 15-14 in favor of LA Tech, the home team went on a 10-0 run to grab their largest lead of the game at nine.

Then it was Duruji time. The forward drilled a three-pointer and followed that up with a breakaway slam dunk to help cut the deficit down to two really quickly. The Tigers again made a 9-2 mini-run to go back up by nine with 4:28 left to go in the first half.

Tech was able to claw back again to trail by only three at 36-33 heading into the locker room.

“I thought it showed a lot of maturity and toughness from our group to play possession by possession and try to make the next right play and find some baskets to go on a little run,” Konkol said. “We can take that from here. Again, we have to clean up our turnovers throughout the entire game to be able to come away with a win from a game like this.”

With the game tied up at 42-42, Duruji and junior Mubarak Muhammed combined to score the next 12 points for the Bulldogs, including three triples between the two of them, to grab their largest lead of the game at 54-46 with 12:42 left.

LSU came back to tie the game up for a third time at 55-55, but Christon answered the bell again by hitting a corner three-pointer, his fourth, to make it a three-point edge with nine minutes remaining.

Despite only scoring four points as a team over the next six-plus minutes, it was anybody’s ball game at 62-62 with 2:29 to go. Junior DaQuan Bracey had the running floater to tie it up for the fourth time in the second half, but the Tigers answered with a fortunate bounce on a three-pointer by Ja’Vonte Smart.

Two more turnovers late in the game resulted in more points for LSU who put the game away from the foul line.

Duruji finished with a game-high 22 points to go along with nine boards in 37 minutes of action while Christon tied his career high with 15, despite missing the end of the game due to injury.

Tech shot 24-of-61 from the field as a team for 39 percent and hit a season-high 11 three-pointers. They ended up with a 42-38 edge in rebounding, getting a career-high 10 boards from junior Oliver Powell.

LSU had five players in double figures, shooting 45 percent from the field (29-of-64). Smart led the way for the Tigers with 16.

LA Tech returns home for its next matchup which comes on Tuesday, Nov. 20 versus Tougaloo. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.