What LSU coach Matt McMahon said about loss to Tennessee

No. 6 Tennessee basketball defeated LSU by 20 points on Wednesday night in Knoxville, 88-68. Tigers head coach Matt McMahon spoke with the media after the game to explain what went wrong for his squad.
On Wednesday night, No. 6 Tennessee basketball defeated LSU 88-68 inside Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center.

The Vols scored 88 points, 50 of which came in the first half, after scoring 103 against Kentucky on Saturday night. Tennessee shot 55% from the field (31-of-56), 46% from beyond the three-point line (11-of-24), and 75% from the free throw line (15-of-20).

Dalton Knecht led the way for the Vols yet again. In his 22nd game as a Vol, the fifth-year guard scored 27 points, giving him his 10th 20-point game of the season. He has scored at least 20 points in seven of his last eight games.
Knecht nearly had a triple-double, shooting 9-of-19 from the field and 2-of-5 from three. He also had seven rebounds, six assists, three blocks, and two steals. He is the only Tennessee player in at least 19 seasons to record 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three rebounds in an SEC game.

LSU coach Matt McMahon met with the media following the win to discuss what went wrong for his team in the loss to the Vols. Here’s everything McMahon had to say.

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Opening Statement

“Congratulations to Tennessee, obviously top-five team in the country for a reason. They were terrific in the first half and we just had no
answer on either end of the floor. I was proud of our guys’ fight there in the second half to get it down to eight. But when you dig yourself that big of a hole, going to be impossible to get back in. You look at Tennessee’s execution offensively, 23 assists, obviously shot the ball incredibly well from three in the first half and then I thought the pressure really bothered us.

“We played the manner we wanted to play in the second half. took care of the ball. We were structured offensively, moved the ball, and made high-quality shots. We were able to establish our defense, make some stops, and push our way back in. But there wasn’t enough left in the tank to come much closer than eight.”
How much Zakai Zeigler contributed to Tennessee’s early game success:

“Yeah, he is a great point guard. We all understand the significance and value of exceptional point guard play. You watched how he played on Saturday in Lexington. That really carried over into tonight. We were late with some.

Closeouts for him, and he made several big threes. Just does an excellent job of managing their team and moving the ball where it has to go. And then, when he shoots well from three, his speed and quickness off the bounce make him a really difficult cover.”

The exhortation to his team at halftime, down 50-27:

“I believe we needed to attempt to get back to implementing our best plan of attack, which was to have better ball security on offense. Execute better on offense. And then, on defense, they just put so much pressure on you in transition, and we did a bad job of getting back and setting up our defense, and they punished us every time. The three then went up and hammered down many open shots.

“But if you look at Tennessee, the games they won, I believe they average 19 assists per game, whereas their defeats are around 10. When the ball moves, I believe they are one of the greatest teams in the country in terms of movement and ball screening. College basketball has become so focused on the ball screen. I think Tennessee is unusual in their ability to move without the basketball and set off ball screens. They do an excellent job.”

How LSU attempted to slow down Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht (27 points):

“I think it’s important to mention that they have some really good players around Knecht.” They have some players who are more experienced than NBA starting fives. So I believe he has established himself as a top-10 NBA draft pick, but if you focus solely on him, Ziegler and (Josiah-Jordan) James will go for 52, like they did on Saturday. Because of their balance, because they’re extremely terrific on defense and so dynamic offensively this year, it’s a difficult cover. So the goal is just to make them work and make his shots as difficult as possible.

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