LSU Falls to USC Rally, 70-68

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LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 21: Nick Rakocevic #31 of the USC Trojans guards Trendon Watford #2 of the LSU Tigers as he drives to th basket in the second half of the game at Staples Center on December 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, California – The LSU Tigers lost for the third time this season by just two points as USC staged a second half rally that resulted in a 70-68 win for the Trojans in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at the STAPLES Center Saturday night. 

Senior Skylar Mays led the Tigers in scoring with 21 points, while freshman Trendon Watford had 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in his best overall game for LSU. Darius Days also had a double double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Jonah Mathews led USC with 15 points, with Nick Rakocevic getting 14, Ethan Anderson 11 and Onyeka Okongwu and Daniel Utomi 10 each. 

LSU shot 36.8 percent for the game (25-68) with three treys and 15-of-22 from the free throw line. USC shot 41 percent (25-61), hitting 11 threes and 9-of-14 from the free throw line. The Trojans had been averaging just over six a game heading into the contest. 

The Tigers were able to get the ball inside with good ball movement much of the evening. Down 24-20 with 7:19 to go in the first half, LSU outscored the Trojans, 15-4, the remainder of the half. LSU led the game 35-28 at intermission.

LSU would get its biggest lead of eight points 2:22 into the second half on a Mays layup at 39-31, and continued to lead by as much as seven on two occasions entering the final 11 minutes. But USC, thanks to 14-of-28 second half shooting and 7-of-14 from the arc, began to get multiple possession scores and whittled the LSU lead down, tying the game back at 57-57 with 4:51 to play and taking the lead for good on a Mathews three-pointer with 4:22 left. 

The lead went to seven for USC, 66-59, with 3:09 to play before LSU would cut the margin to two, 68-66, with 44 seconds left. But the Tigers could not get a stop as Anderson missed and Okongwu was able to get a tip-in for what would be the winning points at 70-66 with 11 seconds left. Mays drove the court and scored with five seconds left to make it 70-68.

USC’s Mathews was fouled on the inbounds and missed a free throw but an LSU field goal attempt right before the buzzer was blocked ending the game. 

LSU out rebounded USC, 43-20 and 13-7 on the offensive glass and had 42-of-its-68 points in the paint. USC had 22 points in the paint. The game was tied seven times with five lead changes. 

LSU (7-4) now takes a few days off for the Christmas holidays before returning to practice to prepare for undefeated Liberty. The Flames will come to the Maravich Assembly Center on Sunday, Dec. 29, at 12:30 p.m. Tickets will be available online at 

(Press Release Provided by LSU Athletics)

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