basketball-men-d1 flag

Mitchell Northam | NCAA.com | February 23, 2019

3 takeaways from No. 13 LSU's overtime upset over No. 5 Tennessee

LSU upsets Tennessee in overtime

The throne atop the SEC just got a bit more crowded.

The No. 13 LSU Tigers pulled off an upset win at home on Saturday, taking down No. 5 Tennessee in overtime in front of a sold out crowd at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge. The win, powered by late-game heroics and timely free throw shooting, makes a three-way for first in the SEC standings.

Saturday’s victory for Will Wade’s side marked the second time this season it had beaten a team ranked in the Top 5 of the AP Poll. The first, of course, was when they beat Kentucky on a buzzer-beating tip-in on Feb. 12 in Rupp Arena.

POINT TRACKER: We're tracking Mike Daum on his way to 3,000 career points

LSU (22-5; 12-2 SEC) won this game for several reasons, one of which was because of its stellar performance at the charity stripe. LSU shot 24-of-31 from the free throw line, a 77.4 percent clip.

While Tennessee (24-3; 12-2 SEC) out-rebounded the Tigers and had three scorers in double-figures, it didn’t make the big shots when they counted.

THE BRACKET: Print the official 2019 March Madness bracket

Smart, Mays lead the way late

To beat the Vols, the Tigers needed overtime, and some incredible playmaking from Skylar Mays and Ja’vonte Smart.

Mays helped LSU get to overtime with some big plays in the final moments of regulation. With about a minute and 15 seconds left, he nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game up. On the Tigers’ next possession, Mays drew a foul and swished a pair of free throws to give the Tigers their first lead of the second half. The junior 6-foot-4 guard finished the game with 23 points, three rebounds and two assists.

FILM STUDY: Breaking down Zion's crazy block against Virginia

Smart grabbed the clutch-baton from Mays and ran with it in overtime. He connected on a lay-up in traffic to give LSU a lead with 59 seconds left, and then with just 0.6 seconds left, he secured a defensive rebound and drew a foul. The freshman hit both of his free throws to give LSU the victory. Smart notched a career-high 29 points and also tallied five rebounds, five assists and three steals.

LSU defense was opportunistic

Aside from Smart and Mays’ high-scoring performances, one of the major reasons LSU was able to pull out the victory was because of its defense.

While Tennessee’s shooting percentages were decent for the game — 44.8 from the floor and 36.4 from behind the arc — LSU locked down in overtime and forced the Vols into four misses, three of which were from outside.

The Vols also turned the ball over 14 times and the Tigers turned those free possessions into offense, totaling 17 points off Vols’ turnovers. LSU also had 13 offensive rebounds and 17 points off second chances.

BRACKETOLOGY: Complete March Madness predictions for the field of 68

SEC picture

LSU is now tied at the top of the SEC standings with Kentucky and Tennessee. If the standings stay the same through the end of the season, LSU will take the crown, as the Tigers have wins over the Wildcats and Volunteers.

Remaining on the Tigers’ regular season slate are all unranked opponents in Texas A&M, Alabama, Florida and Vanderbilt. However, the Tigers game against the Gators won’t be a walk in the park. It’s in Gainesville and Florida has already beaten LSU once this season.

As for the Vols, they also have four games remaining, three of which are against unranked Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn. The fourth is in Knoxville against No. 4 Kentucky. Like this game, that match-up will have a lot of an impact on the SEC heading into conference tournament season.

Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.

College football rankings: AP Poll Top 25: Clemson stays No. 1, LSU joins top 4 in Week 3

After beating Syracuse, Maryland is in the AP Top 25 Poll for the first time since 2013. Clemson remained at No. 1, LSU-Texas made an impact, and more takeaways from the Week 3 poll.
READ MORE

What Week 2's top scores mean for the College Football Playoff race

Week 2's football games had considerable implications toward the College Football Playoffs, as No. 6 LSU proves to be in serious contention.
READ MORE

LSU-Texas: Preview, prediction, how to watch Week 2 showdown

LSU vs. Texas is the only top-10 matchup in college football for Week 2. Here is everything you need to know for this non-conference battle.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners