LSU jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first half of the Cayman Islands Classic Championship on Wednesday night against K-State. Markquis Nowell, who dropped 29 in the overtime win a night ago, hit a three at the first-half buzzer to shrink the lead to eight for LSU. For Nowell, though, his turnovers outpaced his assist totals in the early going.
The Wildcats also struggled to contain LSU from deep, as the Tigers were shooting 50% from three into the second half. In addition to three-point defense, the Wildcats also turned the ball over at a high level as a team and gave up a heavy dose of offensive rebounds in the first 25 minutes of the game.
Keyontae Johnson, who was averaging 18 points per game, was in early foul trouble after picking up a quick technical foul and then two more in the first half, requiring him to spend more time on the bench than what the Wildcats could handle.
With 13:52 to play in the second half though, the Wildcats were able to trim the lead to just six for LSU, after free throws from David N’Guessan. Shortly after though, Keyontae Johnson was tagged with his fourth foul after sliding under LSU’s KJ Williams when trying to box out.
The next jolt from the Wildcats came with 9:52 to play, as LSU was forced to call a timeout after Nae’Qwan Tomlin forced a steal that led to a fastbreak and dunk from Cam Carter, to trim the deficit for K-State to just four.
The Wildcats used that energy to reclaim the lead with 7:40 to play and eventually pushed it up to four. The Tigers got their lead back with 5:28 to play.
Late in the game when trailing, Nowell turned his game around and became the closer he showed he was the night prior. With the late jumper to tie the game at 59, the Wildcats then responded on the other end when Williams committed an offensive foul for LSU. The Wildcats took a timeout with 32 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats held for a shot as the shot clock wound down, Johnson had his shot get blocked, and a helter-skelter play ended up with Sills picking the ball up and throwing it back to Johnson who got the ball off just before the shot clock expired. Giving the Wildcats a two-point edge, with four seconds remaining.
After multiple timeouts slowed the game down, LSU inbounded the ball and Trae Hannibal ran to the bucket and scored without contest. A long review ensued after, as it appeared the clock didn’t start running until LSU was near midcourt. That ended up being the case and the Wildcats were deemed the winners, 61-59.
For the second night in a row, Nowell led the Wildcats in scoring with 18 and Johnson, as well as Sills, was second for the Wildcats with 16. K-State is now 6-0 and will be back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Indianapolis to face Butler in the Big 12-Big East Battle.