Xavier Pinson’s return leads LSU men’s hoops to much-needed victory over Texas A&M | Sports
Coming off a three-game losing streak and losing six of its last seven games, LSU men’s basketball rose from the mat with a 76-68 win over Texas A&M.
Xavier Pinson was back in the starting lineup for LSU and played significant minutes for the first time since his injury on Jan. 8. His absence has been a big part of LSU’s downfall over the past seven games, and his return to the lineup has been a huge game changer for the Tigers.
“He makes a huge difference for us,” head coach Will Wade said of the impact Pinson’s return has had on the team.
At both ends of the field, LSU looked more cohesive and like a team that speaks volumes about Pinson’s leadership as a point guard. Pinson finished with 11 points and two assists and was the general rusher all night for the Tigers on both sides. It wasn’t the first time Pinson had played since sustaining his injury, but it was the first time he’d seen meaningful action and said he finally felt more like himself in this game.
“I can admit the first two times I tried to play I was far from ready,” Pinson said. “I felt good there today, happy to be back with the guys.”
LSU started the game on fire, taking a 36-16 halftime lead in what Wade described as a “clinical defensive.” The Tigers held Texas A&M to just 16 points and the Aggies were abysmal from the field shooting 21% in the first half. At the other end of the field, LSU had one of its best shooting halves of the season, shooting 54 percent from the field and 70 percent from beyond the arc. Tari Eason scored yet another great game, adding 25 points to lead LSU in scoring. Eason explained what it felt like to break the losing streak and how that momentum will help them move forward.
“Today felt like the start of the season,” Eason said of the win. “Obviously we’ve had some slip-ups, but those are things we can go back and fix and watch some movies.”
Eason was right about the skid, because despite the win, LSU still made its fair share of mistakes and brought Texas A&M to life in the second half. The Tigers committed 22 turnovers on the night, which almost ended up being costly, with Texas A&M surging in the second half. LSU also gave up 52 points in the second half, and that was largely tied to Texas A&M’s 12 offensive rebounds in the second half. Turnovers and rebounds have been struggles for LSU all season, but a strong first half was enough to offset those struggles and earn LSU a much-needed win.
The win will no doubt give LSU some much-needed confidence for a crucial part of the SEC game that will go a long way in determining where the Tigers will be in March. LSU’s next three games are against Mississippi State, Georgia, and South Carolina, all of which are very winnable games, especially with the Tigers at full strength, which they seem to be now.