Strong victory over Arkansas puts LSU ahead of a demanding two-week, five-game SEC schedule.
The LSU basketball team’s game against Arkansas on Saturday morning felt like a must-win after a much-needed midweek break.
The primary objective against the Razorbacks was to ensure that the Tigers’ 3-1 SEC start didn’t completely collapse. The team had a chance to take stock of what went wrong during a three-game losing streak.
LSU couldn’t afford another loss in this specific scenario, of course, because of a tough two-week stretch of games that would put even the best teams to the test.
The Tigers’ next five games, which begin on Wednesday night when they travel to No. 5 Tennessee, are all against clubs that, as of Sunday, were all ranked in the top 39 of the NET rankings.
LSU’s opponents this week are Kentucky (26th), South Carolina (38th), Alabama (fifth), Tennessee (sixth), and Florida (39th). Together, these teams have a 31-13 record in league play.
Matt McMahon’s team will face challenges during this run of games, to be sure, but they would have been even more so had they not defeated Arkansas, a team dealing with its own set of issues, 95-74 on Saturday.
Never one to look ahead, McMahon stated following the wire-to-wire blowout, “You hope it leads to more confidence.”
But after LSU emerged victorious from close defeats to Texas A&M and Georgia, as well as a subpar second-half showing in a 21-point loss to Alabama, it was worth mentioning.
Although there was no midweek game to worry about, McMahon pointed out that his team had to adjust to a few illnesses and injuries, but they were ready.
Then, knowing what was ahead, it took the necessary actions to defeat Arkansas in a game it had to have.
With 17 assists on 29 made field goals, LSU’s offensive performance was among its best in league play. This was largely due to their stifling defense, which limited Arkansas to just 18 points in the first 16 minutes.
The Tigers were so dominant that they led by as many as 21 points in the first half and 28 in the second, and they maintained a double-digit lead for the final 33 minutes.
“We were really locked in to the game plan and the things we needed to do on the defensive end,” McMahon remarked. “After that, it was just a really selfless, well-coordinated performance offensively. Seeing us perform in that manner is a lot of fun.
Above all, I’m quite pleased with our players’ performance this week.
Even though the season’s biggest tests are coming up in the next two weeks, he at least knows they’ll be approaching them with some confidence.
“You can see that it works when you look at how hard our guys worked during the bye week, how much trust they played with, how much of the ball they shared on offense, and the quality of shots that resulted from that,” he said.
“Our guys need to have faith in themselves; we have excellent players; we just need to keep improving.”