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“LSU Doesn’t Storm the Court!”

Written by John Marcase

February 22, 2024

BATON ROUGE — Kent Lowe scoffed at the question.

Lowe is an LSU institution, serving as the basketball media contact since the prime days of the Dale Brown era.

So, when ESPN analyst Jay Williams asked Wednesday afternoon in what direction court stormings take place at LSU, Lowe simply told the truth as it stood before Wednesday night – LSU doesn’t do court stormings.

As of Wednesday night, LSU is back in the court storming business. Just ask women’s basketball superstar Angel Reese. 

Tyrell Ward’s short, almost desperation-like shot was pure just prior to the buzzer sounding to give LSU a 75-74 victory over 17th-ranked Kentucky, and unleashing a court-storming the likes of which the Pete Maravich Assembly Center has not seen in nearly two decades.

Leading the student charge to the floor was none other than Lady Tiger All-American Reese, who grabbed Ward, not that he remembers anything.

“I blacked out as soon as the shot went in,” said Ward. “I can’t remember. I didn’t know nothing that was going on.”

Reese posted to X that it was the “most fun I’ve had in a LONG TIME” even though she was knocked to the ground. Kim Mulkey can breathe a sigh of relief that Reese was uninjured. 

“The atmosphere in the PMAC was fantastic,” said Matt McMahon, LSU’s second-year coach. “The energy in the building, you could feel it. When our guys needed a lift down 15, they gave it to us and when we needed to make plays, I thought the fans were just awesome.”

It was believed to be LSU’s first court storming since either the 2006 season or since the Tigers upset No. 1 Arizona Dec. 20, 2002 as LSU men’s basketball fans haven’t had much to cheer about in recent years. Sure, the Tigers won a conference title under Will Wade and made the NCAA Tournament, but the cloud of the FBI wiretap in which Wade can be heard making a “strong-ass” offer to secure the services of a player hovered over the program until Wade was finally fired when the NCAA accused LSU of numerous major recruiting violations.

McMahon was hired to replace Wade after seven successful seasons at mid-major Murray State. It hasn’t been easy as there is still a sizable segment of the LSU fan base that is upset Wade is no longer coaching in Baton Rouge, but in Lake Charles at McNeese State. McMahon inherited a program with few returning players, and in his first season the Tigers endured a 14-game SEC losing streak.

The current season began rocky when LSU was upset by Nicholls State in its second game, and then the Tigers dropped seven of nine league games after opening SEC play 2-0. 

But, an 82-80 loss at Florida on Fat Tuesday may have signaled a turning point not only in the season, but in McMahon’s building process. 

The Tigers fell behind Florida by 20 points less than five minutes into the second half, 60-40. Slowly, LSU mounted a comeback, tying the game, 78-78, on a Ward 3-pointer with 1:33 left before eventually falling by two points.

Saturday at No. 11 South Carolina, LSU found itself trailing by 16 points, 41-25, less than four minutes into the second half. Another Ward 3-pointer tied the game at 57-57 with 1:24 left, and then Jordan Wright won the game for the Tigers, 64-63, by scoring their final seven points, including a free throw with 5 seconds left.

So, when Kentucky used a 16-0 run spanning halftime to take a 42-27 lead less than a minute into the second half, the Tigers had the Wildcats where they wanted them. It took LSU less than 3 minutes to pull within 44-42, and the Tigers actually led for most of the second half before Kentucky freshman Rob Dillingham made a tough baseline jumper with 13 seconds left for a 74-73 Wildcat lead. 

McMahon opted not to call a timeout and LSU’s first shot was blocked, but Wright came up with the loose ball and passed to Ward before falling out of bounds. Ward took it from there. 

“The best teams go through the most adversity,” said Ward. “I feel like during the four to five game stretch where we couldn’t pull it out, I feel like that was just all the buildup to get to these two games. This is just the progress of it.”

“I really don’t have the words to describe it,” said McMahon. “I’m just so proud of our players. Over the last week, seeing the toughness that we need to play with … I think it has to be the foundation of your program.”

Written by John Marcase

February 22, 2024

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