COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The LSU basketball team’s 10-game road winning streak in Southeastern Conference play was put to the supreme test Tuesday night in Reed Arena.
Down one wing guard already when Marlon Taylor didn’t make the trip, LSU lost another when Charles Manning rolled his right foot late in the first half and sat out the rest of the Tigers' contest with Texas A&M.
Then, freshman forward Trendon Watford took a shot to the side of the head in the second half when several players got tangled up jockeying for position under the Tigers’ basket. However, he was able to finish the game after going to the locker room for a couple of minutes.
Throw in foul trouble for Emmitt Williams and Darius Days, who picked up his fifth and was disqualified with 2:50 left in regulation, and LSU was in for a real challenge.
Despite the adversity, the Tigers dug deep and pulled out an 89-85 overtime victory to stretch their road winning streak in SEC play to 11 — all nine on the road a year ago and two this season.
“We found a way,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “I was proud of our guys … we found a way.”
Like last season, LSU buckled down when it counted. The Tigers trailed by six points five times in the final six minutes, yet got the game to overtime on back-to-back 3-pointers by Marshall Graves and Javonte Smart in a span of 24 seconds — the second with 1:13 left.
“We all kept saying we were going to win,” Watford said of the confidence his team played with down the stretch. “In the last couple minutes, it was one possession at a time. We needed one stop, and we got it and we executed to get back in it.”
LSU (12-4, 4-0 SEC) also extended some other winning streaks in slipping past Texas A&M (8-7, 2-2 SEC) when it outscored the Aggies 10-6 in the five-minute overtime.
The Tigers pushed their overall winning streak — which started with a victory over then-unbeaten Liberty on Dec. 29 — to five games, and they downed the Aggies for the fifth consecutive time with their third win in a row in Reed Arena.
Also, it was the fifth consecutive overtime road win in the SEC for LSU dating to last season, when the Tigers posted an NCAA-leading five wins in extra time against two losses.
All five LSU starters finished in double figures.
Watford and Skylar Mays had 19 each, while Smart finished with 18. Days had 16 and Williams 10.
Watford, who said he needed a minute to shake off that hit to the side of his head, also had a game-high 11 rebounds and a career-high six assists.
Williams and Mays had seven rebounds each and Days and Aundre Hyatt, who played some key minutes with Manning out, had six apiece as LSU won the battle on the backboards 48-32.
Texas A&M, which had won four of its previous five games, also had five players in double digits.
Josh Nebo led the way with 20 points, while Andre Gordon finished with 17. Savion Flagg dropped in 16, Wendell Mitchell had 11 and Jay Jay Chandler 10.
When overtime got under way, Smart started it with a 3-point basket and the Tigers followed his lead and Mays to record the win.
In addition to the rebounding edge, LSU was 14 of 38 from beyond the 3-point arc for 36.8% and the Tigers were 17 of 20 from the free-throw line for 87.5%.
But those numbers were offset by 19 turnovers to only seven for Texas A&M.
“To come in here and turn it over 19 times in a possession game like this,” Wade said, “I’d have never though we’d be able to win turning it over like that.
“If we don’t dominate the glass, we have no chance. … But it was a good win.”
While it turned out well, Wade said Manning, who wore a boot on his lower right leg and needed crutches to get around, will likely be out for an extended period.
Taylor was left home after having more issues with his twice-surgically repaired foot.
“We’ll get Charles back and looked at, but my hunch is it’s not good,” Wade said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some good news on Marlon.”