FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas coach Mike Anderson felt like scoring opportunities were there for Moses Kingsley’s taking against LSU, and he didn’t hesitate to let the junior know about it after a lackluster first half.
Kingsley heard Anderson’s less-than-pleasant halftime message loud and clear on Tuesday night, scoring 17 of his 21 points in the second half of the hot-shooting Razorbacks 85-65 win over the reeling Tigers.
”It wasn’t nice at all,” Anderson said of his halftime talk with Kingsley. ”As a matter of fact, I started the halftime talk right at Moses and he responded. My voice carries, trust me it does.”
Following Anderson’s urging, Kingsley also grabbed 12 rebounds in earning his 15th double-double of the season, and he added four assists and three blocks in rejuvenating an Arkansas (14-14, 7-8 Southeastern Conference) team that appeared to hit rock bottom after crushing home loss to Auburn a week ago.
While the postseason is still in great doubt for the Razorbacks, they took great pleasure in adding to LSU’s recent woes. And they did so behind Kingsley and a group of reserves who outscored the Tigers (16-12, 9-6) 32-0 off the bench.
Trey Thompson led the way for Arkansas’ bench by scoring a career-high 13 points, while freshman Jimmy Whitt scored all 12 of his points in the first half.
Starter Dusty Hannahs finished with 17 points and Anthlon Bell had 12, but it was Kingsley who continued to show he’s among the SEC’s top post players in his first year as a starter – even if he needed a pep talk at halftime to bring out his best against LSU standout Ben Simmons on Tuesday.
”Coach (Anderson) was not happy with me after the first half,” Kingsley said. ”He said I wasn’t aggressive, and that’s what I tried to do in the second half.”
Simmons was his usual smooth self in the loss, finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists before fouling out.
However, even with Antonio Blakeney adding 22 points, the Tigers lost their third straight and for the fourth time in the last five games to put their once-promising NCAA Tournament hopes in serious jeopardy.
The losing streak, including defeats against Alabama and at Tennessee, matches LSU’s longest of the season.
”I just know we’re not playing at the level, and executing at the level we need to, to play against good basketball teams right now,” Tigers coach Johnny Jones said. ”… We’re not at that level right now that would give us an opportunity to be successful in gut-wrenching games like this.”
Many of LSU’s woes on Tuesday could be traced to the defensive end, where the Tigers allowed Arkansas to shoot 63.3 percent (19 of 30) in the second half on the way to avenging a 76-74 loss in Baton Rouge on Jan. 16.
The Razorbacks finished 33 of 61 (54.1 percent) from the field overall, and – bolstered by Kingsley’s strong second half – they stretched a two-point halftime lead to as many as 20 after a Kingsley dunk gave Arkansas an 82-62 lead.
LSU: The Tigers played without guard Keith Hornsby, who aggravated a hernia injury in a loss at Tennessee on Saturday. The senior, who is second on LSU with an average of 13.1 points per game, also missed seven games to start the season with the injury.
Arkansas: Bell’s 3-pointer to put the Razorbacks up 42-35 in the second half was the 227th from beyond the arc of his career. That moved the senior past Todd Day and into fourth place on the school’s all-time list for made 3-pointers.
Kingsley, who spent the last two seasons backing up former SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis, has now scored in double figures in all but one game this season for Arkansas. The junior’s 15 double-doubles are second in the SEC to Simmons, who has 19.
LSU hosts Florida on Saturday.
Arkansas is at Tennessee on Saturday.