Tennessee 82, LSU 72
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
McRae made all six of his 3-point attempts and shot 13 of 18 overall. Tennessee (15-10, 7-6 Southeastern Conference) shot 10 of 15 from 3-point range as a team against an LSU squad that entered the night with the SEC's best 3-point percentage defense (.290).
Tennessee has made 75 percent (15 of 20) of its 3-point attempts over its last two games. The Vols had shot just 28.6 percent (102 of 357) from 3-point range through their first 23 games.
Trae Golden added 20 points and eight assists for Tennessee. Jarnell Stokes had 13 points and 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double in his last eight games.
Johnny O'Bryant had 24 points and eight rebounds for LSU (15-9, 6-7) before fouling out. Anthony Hickey had 14 points and Malik Morgan added 12 points.
The game featured an intriguing matchup between Stokes and O'Bryant, two of the SEC's top big men.
O'Bryant was averaging 20.7 points and 10.7 rebounds over his last three contests, including a 30-point performance Thursday in a 64-46 victory at South Carolina. Stokes' performance Tuesday gave him seven double-doubles in his last eight games.
Although O'Bryant won that individual matchup, LSU wouldn't win the game. McRae made sure of it.
Just about every time LSU threatened, McRae responded.
After LSU cut Tennessee's lead to 51-45 on O'Bryant's layup with 13:06 left, McRae connected on a 3-pointer to stop the Tigers' momentum. McRae added a thunderous dunk a couple of minutes later.
When LSU reduced the deficit to six again on Anthony Hickey's steal and layup with 5:46 left, McRae calmly buried another 3-pointer. After LSU made it a six-point margin once more on a Hickey 3-pointer with 4:11 remaining, McRae scored on Tennessee's next possession. McRae then pulled down a defensive rebound and got fouled by O'Bryant, knocking the LSU big man out of the game with 3:21 left.
LSU was playing from behind most of the night.
Tennessee shot 59.3 percent (16 of 27) over the first 20 minutes to grab a 40-30 halftime lead. McRae and Golden led the way by scoring 14 points each while shooting a combined 11 of 16 before halftime.
McRae and Golden stayed hot in the second half. The Vols made their first three 3-point attempts of the second half, including two by McRae in the first two minutes. McRae's first 3-pointer of the second half gave Tennessee a 43-30 advantage.
LSU clawed its way back into the game by relying on second-chance points and O'Bryant's inside presence, but the Tigers had no answers for McRae.