LSU Basketball Uses Strong Efforts Off the Bench to Fuel Second-Half 80-76 Win Over Struggling Ole Miss

Glen West

When it was announced Charles Manning would miss the next month of action with a broken foot, LSU knew it needed to find another answer. The first two names out of Will Wade's mouth were Marlon Taylor and Aundre Hyatt.

On Saturday night the two combined for 16 second half points to spark an 80-76 win over Ole Miss to stay undefeated in conference play. The win was also the 12th straight road win for the Tigers and the fourth straight game the team has won a game by four points or less.

With the score 43-41 in Ole Miss' favor, Taylor and Hyatt were subbed into the game and proceeded to drain back-to-back-to-back threes to quickly give LSU a little breathing room at 50-43. The Tigers were +16 with Taylor and Hyatt on the floor.

A scrappy Ole Miss team wouldn't make closing the game easy for the Tigers. After leading by as many as 10 points in the second half, a 18-2 Rebel run quickly saw LSU in a 65-59 hole with 7:30 to go, and guard Breein Tyree starting to get hot. 

The fourth leading scorer in the SEC scored 21 of his 36 points in the second half but therein lied the problem, he was doing it all himself. While Tyree was a one-man show, LSU relied on multiple players to fight its way back into the game in the closing minutes, led by the seniors Skylar Mays and Taylor. 

Mays scored eight of his 15 points in the final four minutes, including the game-sealing free throws with 11 seconds to go. But it was Taylor that made the play of the game, going up for an offensive rebound only he could grab with 24 seconds remaining, to keep the ball away from Ole Miss and extend the lead to two possessions.

LSU's dominance on the glass and free throw shooting were other major factors in staying perfect in SEC play. The Tigers out-rebounded the Rebels 47-31 including 12 on the offensive glass while draining 24-of-27 free throws to Ole Miss' putrid 9-of-19 at the line.

It was the Tyree show early for the Rebels as he dropped 13 of Ole Miss' first 18 points to help the Rebels take an early 18-11 lead over the Tigers. Luckily for LSU, sophomore point guard Javonte Smart was able to match Tyree's play, scoring 10 early points of his own, including a stretch where he scored eight of 10 LSU points to cut the Ole Miss lead to one.

Smart fueled an 18-9 run as LSU drew 11 personal fouls leading to 15 free throw attempts in the first half, connecting on 13. Utilizing the free throw line was a necessity for LSU in the first half as it went the last 4:37 of the first half without a field goal, walking into the break gridlocked at 36-36 with Ole Miss.

LSU is back home on Tuesday to take on a Florida team that is fresh off of a 69-47 win over No. 4 Auburn. The game will tip-off at 6 p.m. and be available on SEC Network.