Wright’s big night powers LSU past Ole Miss

Published 11:32 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2024

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU had the Wright formula to beat Ole Miss.

Jordan Wright scored a game-high 27 points to lead LSU to an 89-80 men’s basketball victory over No. 22 Ole Miss on Wednesday night, for the Tigers’ third win in four Southeastern Conference games.

Wright, a graduate transfer from Vanderbilt and a Baton Rouge area native, scored six of LSU’s nine points to close the first half and eight of its 10 points to open the second half. He finished with seven rebounds, five assists and seven steals.

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“I watched what they did to Florida,” Wright said of the Rebels’ 103-85 win on Jan. 10. “They just dominated that game. It put a chip on my shoulder. I was like, ‘There’s no way they’re going to do that to us.’”

Jalen Cook added 16 points for LSU (11-6, 3-1 SEC). Tyrell Ward contributed 11, including a trio of 3-pointers in two minutes during a 13-4 run that boosted the Tigers’ lead to 64-48 with 9:48 left to play.

LSU coach Matt McMahon said the genesis of the Tigers’ first win over a ranked team this season started in the second half of Saturday’s 93-78 loss at Auburn. The Tigers cut a 28-point Auburn second-half lead to eight with 2:12 left.

“Disappointed we weren’t able to win, but I thought that was an important step for us as a team to get back in the game,” McMahon said.

LSU led 77-62 with 3:18 before Ole Miss’ pressing defense caused two missed shots and two turnovers in a 10-0 run.
A deep corner 3-pointer by Mike Williams III stopped the bleeding and the Tigers hit 9 of 10 free throws in the final 32 seconds.

Ole Miss (15-2, 2-2) got the bulk of its scoring from Matthew Murrell, Jaylen Murray and Allen Flanigan, all ranked among the SEC’s top 20 scorers.

Murray had 23 points, Flanigan 20 and Murrell 19 for the Rebels, who made four of their last eight shots to avoid their worst field goal shooting performance of the season.

LSU chased Ole Miss almost the entire first half before finally taking the lead on a Wright steal and basket with 1:45 left, then retaking it on a Cook 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining that held up for a 35-33 halftime advantage.

Wright said McMahon emphasized that the Tigers needed a quick start in the second half — “Coach called a couple of big plays for me,” Wright said — before Ward broke open the game, swishing three straight 3s from the deep left wing.

“We played a well-coached team with good, experienced players,” Ole Miss first-year coach Chris Beard said. “They (LSU) have a defensive identity. They try to get you to turn the ball over, and we fell for it early.”