It was another tale of slow starts for the purple and gold as Tennessee jumped out early and didn't relinquish control, knocking off the Tigers 64-50.
Will Wade and company suffered their third straight conference loss and lowest point total of the season.
LSU (15-4, 3-4) got off to an Auburn-esque start to this one as Tennessee scored the first 14 points of the game and really got the crowd into it early. But like we've learned with this team against Auburn and earlier this week against Alabama, not much gets to them and the Tigers flipped a switch the rest of the way.
The purple and gold responded with large runs of its own to get back into the game before the halftime break, including a 12-3 stretch while connecting on nine of their final 18 shots of the half to cut the early deficit to 29-25. Timely turnovers and big time shot making from Brandon Murray and Tari Eason helped keep LSU afloat.
On ball defense was the difference maker in allowing LSU to get back in the game but there was no question that the second half the Tigers would have to be more consistent with its offense. But the start to the second half mirrored the first as the Tigers went 2-of-14 to start the second, going over five minutes without scoring a bucket coming out of the break, allowing Tennessee to go on an 8-0 run and take an 11-point advantage.
"We gotta be more disciplined. We don't swing the ball enough, there's just a lot of us being stagnant. We don't play with good pace," Murray said. "We have a lot of winners on our team and when we are down we gotta come together more. We were playing more as a team before and now we do everything on our own."
Tennessee would extend its lead to as many as 19 in the final 20 minutes and to add on to the issues facing the team, the disparity beyond the arc was really telling as the game waned. LSU just couldn't get a three ball to fall, going 4-of-19 for the game while Tennessee knocked in 10-of-28, headlined by Santiago Vescovi's game high 16 points.
Darius Days would also injure that right ankle in the second half again, would come back but was clearly hobbled. LSU would get the lead down to six points down the stretch but another questionable missed call helped Tennessee regain momentum.
"We took our foot off the gas, got too comfortable," Murray said. "We need to stop doing that."
"We didn't run clean offense, missed some finishes at the rim and couldn't get things in rhythm," Wade said. "We've gotta get a lot better the next couple of days."
There are simply too many offensive lulls from this team at the moment for its defense to keep up and with Days injuring that right ankle in the second half, it may be a while before LSU gets back to full strength.
Wade said after the game that a combination of a number of factors led to tonight's result and that changes are coming with personnel and the way the offense is run.
"We gotta be cleaner with the ball and make some shots," Wade said. "We're gonna make some changes going into Wednesday. I thought this was as poor as we've played. We looked tired, we looked slow, we weren't at our best."