RICHMOND, Va. — Turnovers were a major concern for Will Wade going into the LSU basketball team’s second game of the season Wednesday night.
They’re an even bigger concern now — much bigger.
No. 23 LSU threw and kicked the ball all over VCU's Siegel Center and finished with 26 turnovers, the most in Wade’s two-plus seasons with the Tigers, in an 84-82 setback.
VCU converted the miscues into 37 points, marring the homecoming of Wade to the school he spent four years at as an assistant and two years as its head coach until leaving for LSU in March 2017.
Despite the sloppy play with 12 first-half giveaways, which helped VCU to a 50-38 lead going to the locker room, LSU had two chances to win or tie in the closing seconds.
LSU (1-1) was down 83-82 with 26.8 seconds to play after VCU’s De’Riante Jenkins made two free throws when Skylar Mays, who had a game-high 23 points, misfired on a short banker with 5 seconds left.
VCU’s Marcus Santos-Silva made one free throw with 4.9 seconds remaining before Mays lost the ball as he tried to drive in for a game-tying shot as the clock wound down.
The previous high total for turnovers in Wade’s tenure at LSU was 21, which the Tigers had in a 90-89 loss to Arkansas last Feb. 2 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
"It was a great game, especially with a tremendous atmosphere, as we expected," Wade said. "The difference in the game was our turnovers.
"We turned it over 26 times, gave up 37 points off the turnovers, and got beat 10 (points) on the free-throw line. So, that's not a good recipe."
LSU, which shot 51.7% from the field to VCU’s 41.3%, had four players in double figures in the loss that ended a nine-game road winning streak.
In addition to Mays' 23 points, Javonte Smart, who had just two points in the first half while battling foul trouble, finished with 15.
Freshman Trendon Watford had 11 points, while Charles Manning and Darius Days finished with 10 each.
VCU (3-0) had five players in double digits with an offensive explosion that came five nights after the Rams went cold in a 59-56 win over North Texas.
Santos-Silva dropped in a team-high 17, while Jenkins and Marcus Evans had 15 each. Vince Williams and Isaac Vann added 11 apiece.
After being outscored 45-27 over the final 14½ minutes of the first half, a stretch that included an 18-4 run capped by three consecutive 3-pointers, LSU tried to mount a comeback in the second half.
When the Tigers scored 11 unanswered points in 70 seconds, they whittled the deficit to three points and were clearly back in it at 62-59 at the 13:55 mark.
“They didn’t shoot the ball well early in the game, so we had to get more shots and be more aggressive,” Mays said. “We couldn’t let them be the aggressor.
“We out-competed them in that stretch. We knew we had to play harder and we definitely played harder than them. The ball just didn’t bounce our way at the end of the game.”
LSU tied it three times, the last with 1:22 remaining on a layup by Mays after a block by Emmitt Williams of Santos-Silva at the other end.
Then, with 41.8 seconds left, Mays hit two free throws to give LSU its first lead since the 11:26 mark of the first half.
VCU, however, hung on by making three free throws in the final 27 seconds.
“We got it to one with nine minutes left and turned it over two straight times, and we had the game tied and turned it over three straight possessions,” Wade said. “At the end of the day, that ultimately did us in.
“But give VCU credit, they played extremely well and extremely hard.”