If LSU guard Keith Hornsby has trouble sleeping after an exciting win, you can imagine what Saturday night was like for him — and his teammates.
The Tigers likely relived over and over an error-filled second half earlier Saturday that saw them squander a 13-point second-half advantage and get outscored 20-6 in the final 10 minutes, leading to a 67-64 loss to Texas A&M in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Hornsby probably couldn’t close his eyes without seeing his attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer rattle in and out with less than two seconds left, but it was far from the only thing that halted LSU’s nine-game home winning streak and kept the Tigers from a third consecutive Southeastern Conference victory.
Three turnovers by LSU (13-4, 2-2 SEC) in the final 41.8 seconds played a major role, helping Texas A&M (11-5, 2-2) come all the way back from a 58-47 deficit with 9:49 remaining after nearly getting blown out early in the second half.
“This is the type of thing that keeps you up at night,” Hornsby said of his team’s inability to finish the Aggies. “I can’t sleep after wins because I’m excited … and I can’t sleep after losses because I’m disappointed.
“This is one I’m not going to sleep well on, because we should have won this one.”
Two of LSU’s 16 turnovers loomed large because they came when they were clinging to a 64-63 lead in the final minute, while a third with eight seconds to play cost them a chance at an attempt at a game-winning field goal.
After A&M took the lead for the first time since the 16:16 mark of the first half on Danuel House’s jumper with 23 seconds left, LSU point guard Josh Gray lost the ball while trying to get it to Hornsby.
That came after a travel by LSU forward Jordan Mickey when he crashed to the floor with 26 seconds to play after a defensive rebound.
“I was trying to create for my teammate and get in the lane,” said Gray, who had another turnover with 41 seconds left on a charge. “Mickey was supposed to come and set a screen, but he turned the other way. It was a miscommunication; we weren’t on the same page, and unfortunately, I lost the ball.”
House hit two free throws to finish an 18-point performance, giving A&M a three-point lead before Hornsby’s final miss.
It capped a frustrating second half in which LSU appeared ready to blow Texas A&M out of the building until it went ice-cold from the field.
After Hornsby beat the first-half buzzer with a 3-pointer for an eight-point lead, LSU quickly stretched it to 13 points at 46-33 before a series of rushed shots and turnovers kept them from expanding on it.
Over the next seven minutes, LSU was 4-of-17 from the field — including five missed 3-pointers — and had five turnovers.
“When we got up 10, 11 points, I thought we didn’t really focus and didn’t value possessions like we needed to,” said Jones, whose team shot 29.4 percent in the second half after hitting 50.0 percent in the first 20 minutes. “The things that allowed us to get up 10 or 11 points, we did not continue to do.
“We took some quick shots — some 3s,” he said. “We should have been slashing hard getting the ball inside and being patient. We settled (for shots) a little bit with their zone.”
“There were a lot of quick shots,” Gray said. “When we get a lead and have control isn’t the time to come down and take quick shots. We start to play individual ball.”
That was complicated by some easy A&M baskets in transition as House and Jalen Jones, who also had 18 points, did most of the damage.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” said Mickey, who led his team with 17 points. “They made their run at the end of the game, and we didn’t rebound, and we didn’t take smart shots.”
“When you look back at it, you have to shake your head like, ‘We really blew this one,’” Hornsby said. “We were up 13 points. We have to sustain that; there’s no excuse for that.”