1.3.18 Mhoops vs. Kentucky

LSU sophomore guard Skylar Mays (4) looks around the player defending him during the Tigers' 74-71 loss to Kentucky on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in the PMAC.

The LSU men’s basketball team has gotten off to an impressive start in Southeastern Conference play, getting a key win over the 11th ranked Texas A&M Aggies.

The Tigers narrowly etched out the victory on a last second deep three by freshman guard Tremont Waters with 0.7 seconds left in regulation. LSU’s record now stands at 10-4 and 1-1 in the SEC with the win. The Tigers’ first loss came down to a last second miss against No. 17 Kentucky.

Despite LSU’s fast start against two top-25 teams, the Tigers know they have to keep their minds focused on the next game.

“We need to stick to what we do and keep building our identity moving forward,” said sophomore guard Skylar Mays. “I think we’re getting somewhere with it as far as the defensive side of the game.”

LSU faces its next opponent, Arkansas, on the road. The Razorbacks are undefeated at home this season posting a perfect 8-0 record. The Razorbacks have won three straight games against the Tigers and currently have a twelve game winning streak in Bud Walton Arena, dating back to last year.

“We have a great opportunity moving forward,” Mays said. “Arkansas is a great team and this is a win that we really need and we are gonna play like that.”

The contest pits the two best shooting teams in the SEC against each other. LSU sits with a 50.2 field goal percentage only bested by Arkansas’ 50.5 percent from the field.

The Tigers will need to continue to improve on the defensive side of the ball if they want to win against the Razorbacks. LSU is trying to improve its defensive field goal percentage which currently sits at 13th in the SEC.

“We have to get better and get prepared to play,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “We have to play better than we did on Saturday, we have to keep getting better and keep preparing the right way to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Despite the early defensive struggles, the Tigers have held their last five opponents to under their season averages.

LSU has implemented a newer scheme where they do not guard the other team’s weakest player. The Tigers use this extra defender to sit in the lane and protect the paint, cutting down on penetration.

This four on five defensive strategy has helped them tremendously at the start of SEC play and given the Tigers some notary that many did not give them at the beginning of the season.

LSU was ranked last in the preseason SEC media poll, but so far has exceeded expectations. Wade is continuing to push his team forward in his first season as head coach and knows that if his team can continue to improve each week then they can do something special this season.

“I’m not worried what other people think,” Wade said. “We just gotta keep getting better.” “We gotta keep putting ourselves in a position to win and to win games, that’s what it’s about, we gotta win.”  

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