UMBC LSU Basketball

LSU guard Skylar Mays (4), shown in Tuesday night's game with Maryland-Baltimore County, had a career-high 30 points in Friday night's 80-78 loss to Utah State in the Jamaica Classic.

For the second time in 365 days, the LSU basketball team had an untimely meltdown in a holiday tournament.

Playing in the AdvoCare Invitational last Nov. 23, LSU held a nine-point lead over Florida State with 3:05 left when the Tigers let the Seminoles off the hook and Will Wade’s team eventually fell 79-76 in overtime.

In the Jamaica Classic on Friday night, LSU led No. 15 Utah State by 19 with 16:32 to play before the Aggies roared back for an 80-78 win — leaving the stunned Tigers wondering how another one got away.

That was what Saturday was for as LSU (3-2) went through a 75-minute practice to get ready for a 1:30 p.m. Sunday date with Rhode Island (4-1).

Wade can only hope that Saturday’s preps will make a difference this year.

A year ago, the Tigers had a day off after that excruciating loss to Florida State and were still hurting when it fell hard against Oklahoma State 90-77.

“We can’t let this loss beat us twice,” Wade, remembering those two disappointing losses, said Saturday. “We can't let that happen … we’ve got to be ready to go. It’s a similar situation, let’s hope it’s not the same result.”

That will be up to the mistake-prone Tigers, who got sloppy again in the final 11-plus minutes to let the Aggies back in the contest.

After averaging 20.8 turnovers in its first four games, LSU had just five in the first half and a total of eight in the first 28 minutes against Utah State.

But the Tigers committed eight in the final 11:39 after holding a 60-48 advantage, and the Aggies scored a total of 21 points on 11 second-half giveaways after netting just two points off LSU miscues in the first half.

Eight of the 11 second-half turnovers were of the live-ball variety.

That was particularly disconcerting to Wade, whose team was in complete control for 30 minutes and in decent shape for another five.

“We controlled things for the majority of the game and we played really, really hard,” he said. “The last 10 minutes, the turnover problem got us again.

“Shoot, we were prepared and played good against a really good team for most of the game. We just didn’t make plays when we needed to.”

The bitter loss marred a sterling performance by guard Skylar Mays, who dropped in a career-high 30 points. He was 10 of 13 from the field with a career-best five 3-point field goals made.

“Skylar was awesome … we can’t ask any more from him,” Wade said. “He did just a phenomenal job for us, but it wasn't enough.

“We need some of our other guys to step up and play a little bit. He didn’t get enough help from some of his teammates.”

That was especially true in the second half when Mays and Emmitt Williams combined for 30 of LSU’s 34 points with Mays getting 21 and Williams nine.

Williams finished the game with 14 points as did Darius Days, but each of Days’ 14 points came in the first half.

“We have to have some guys step up because right now, we have three guys playing well on offense: Skylar, Emmitt and Darius,” Wade said. “We need other guys to step in and help them because teams are going to start taking some stuff away from Skylar.”

But the sting from Friday night remained for Wade on Saturday.

“It was a very, very disappointing result,” he said. “We let a golden opportunity slip away against a great team. That’s two two-point losses for us, so we have to reset ourselves and get ready for another good team Sunday.”

The basics

WHAT: Rhode Island vs. LSU

WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Montego Bay, Jamaica (Jamaica Classic)

TV: CBS Sports Network

ONLINE: CBSSports.com

RADIO: WTGE-FM, 100.7; WWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7

UP NEXT: vs. Missouri State, 7 p.m. Friday

Briefly

• LSU continues to shoot the ball well and defend well. The Tigers are hitting 49.1% from the field while holding opponents to 37.1%.

• Skylar Mays needs just two points to reach 1,200 for his career and five assists to become the 13th LSU player to get to 300.

• Rhode Island's lone loss was to No. 7 Maryland 73-55. The Rams topped North Texas 60-47 on Friday in the Jamaica Classic.

Probable lineups

Rhode Island (4-1)

Starters

Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.

G Fatts Russell 5-10 Jr. 18.2 4.6*

G Jeff Dowtin 6-3 Sr. 13.2 3.4

G Tyrese Martin 6-6 So. 11.4 5.0

F Cyril Langevine 6-8 Sr. 9.4 12.0

F Jermaine Harris 6-8 So. 5.2 3.6

Key reserves

F Dana Tate 6-7 So. 4.8 3.0

F Jacob Toppin 6-8 Fr. 5.6 4.6

F Mekhi Long 6-7 Fr. 2.0 2.0

* assists

LSU (3-2)

Starters

Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.

G Javonte Smart 6-4 So. 10.4 3.8*

G Skylar Mays 6-4 Sr. 19.6 6.0

F Darius Days 6-6 So. 12.8 7.8

F Emmitt Williams 6-6 So. 12.8 7.2

F Trendon Watford 6-9 Fr. 11.6 6.2

Key reserves

G Charles Manning 6-5 Jr. 8.4 4.8

G James Bishop 6-2 Fr. 2.6 0.0

G Aundre Hyatt 6-5 Fr. 0.4 3.0

* assists

Email Sheldon Mickles at smickles@theadvocate.com