NEW YORK — For the second time in as many nights Tuesday, the LSU men’s basketball team had a 3-point shot to win a game in the Legends Classic.
For the second time in as many nights, the shot didn’t find the mark.
This time, guard Antonio Blakeney’s attempt from the top of the key hit the front of the rim and bounced away in a 65-65 tie with North Carolina State, sending the game to overtime.
Given another chance, North Carolina State ruled the five-minute extra period in outscoring LSU 18-7 to come away with an 83-72 victory in the consolation game of the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center.
The miss by Blakeney came after Jalyn Patterson misfired on a 3-pointer in the waning seconds of LSU’s one-point setback to Marquette in the semifinals Monday night.
It certainly wasn’t the way LSU (3-2) expected to finish after pouring in seven 3-point shots in a 10-minute stretch of the second half to turn a 12-point deficit at the 16:48 mark into a 59-54 lead with 6:46 to play.
LSU had to step back and take some 3s after North Carolina State (3-2) clogged the middle and tried to stop 6-foot-10 forward Ben Simmons from penetrating the lane and doing some damage from close range.
Simmons, who came into the game as the Tigers’ leading scorer with 19.3 points per game, took only one shot in the first half and six for the game — making one of them as well as two free throws for a career-low four points.
“Our plan was to really kind of crowd the lane, flood the lane,” North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said. “Basically, we wanted to sink and clog it up and not let him get going with his penetration.”
The plan worked to perfection, even though Simmons still made an impact with 14 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and three blocked shots before fouling out with 4:04 to play in overtime with his team trailing 67-65.
But even when Simmons got inside, he had troubles. He missed a dunk in the first minute of the second half, which ignited an 11-2 run for North Carolina State that produced a 45-33 lead with 16:48 to play.
LSU coach Johnny Jones wanted Simmons to be more aggressive in the second half after he got off only one shot in the first — with 2:27 to play. But N.C. State had other plans.
“We tried to run some isolation plays and tried to put him in a situation where we could get him some gaps driving to the basket,” Jones said. “But even with that, he’s aggressive and he’s going to play to what the defense dictates.
“If that’s making an extra pass, that’s how he’s going to play because he’s very seldom going to force the issue.”
With Simmons starting to run the floor after taking the ball off the backboard, he helped LSU get back in the game when his teammates made a barrage of 3-pointers.
He handed out five assists during that stretch — four on 3-point baskets. Tim Quarterman hit three long balls, while Brandon Sampson had two and Blakeney and Patterson one each to help the Tigers storm back.
But after an inside basket by Brian Bridgewater at the 4:23 mark, LSU started missing the mark, with just two field goals down the stretch. The Tigers finished shooting just 36.4 percent for the game.
The last field goal in regulation came from Simmons, who tied the game at 65-65 with 38.0 seconds remaining. But he missed the free throw that would have given his team a one-point lead.
“In the second half, there was a big deficit we had to overcome. But we put ourselves in position and got a lead,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, we did not play as sound defensively and got them to the free-throw line several times to allow them to get baskets without having to play through our defense.”
Quarterman, who led LSU with 19 points, agreed that the Tigers gave the Wolfpack too many chances at the line in the final minutes of regulation.
Down four at 61-57 with 4:02 left, North Carolina State made 6-of-8 from the free-throw line, and guard Cat Barber hit a shot with 50.0 seconds left for a two-point lead before Simmons tied it up 12 seconds later.
“We just had a couple of breakdowns on defense, we gave them a couple of fouls and stopped the clock and gave them chances to make free throws and get back in the game,” said Quarterman, who also had nine rebounds. “They took advantage of those chances. We just have to stay down and keep people in front of us (defensively).”
Sampson chipped in with 18 points on four 3-pointers, including two in that crucial stretch, and Blakeney finished with 11 points.
While Simmons’ absence from double-digit scoring for the first time in his five-game college career was an eye-opener for some, Jones wasn’t shocked.
“(N.C. State) does great job of clogging the lane and have probably one of the more physical teams we have had to face all season,” Jones said. “What they wanted to do was push him. And any time he could catch the ball, they put themselves in gaps to not give him any driving lanes to the basket.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.