LSU

LSU basketball: Matt McMahon celebrates first win with a shower, but work still left ahead

Koki Riley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE - Matt McMahon had a surprise waiting for him on the other side of the door.

McMahon, the first-year coach at LSU basketball, had just won his first game with the Tigers, a 74-63 victory over Kansas City on Wednesday night. He was about to meet with his team after the win.

"Talk it up!" McMahon yelled as he entered the room, clapping on his way in. Less than a second later, the surprise hit.

Multiple players doused McMahon with water from their cups and bottles, celebrating with their coach his first win at LSU (1-0). The former Murray State coach was thoroughly soaked.

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Wednesday was the end of a long prologue and the start of the first chapter for McMahon at LSU. He took the job after a turbulent eight months within the program, leading to the firing of former coach Will Wade one day before Selection Sunday last season, after the Tigers received a notice of allegations outlining serious recruiting infractions within the program.

McMahon hired an entirely new coaching staff, added four freshmen signees and six players from the transfer portal to complete his overhaul.

But nothing about the storminess of LSU's offseason was top of mind Wednesday.

"Excited to get a win, sure beats losing. Obviously would have liked to have played better," McMahon said. "But as we know, (this is the) first time this group (is) playing together in this setting, and we're going to be a work in progress there. But overall, a lot of positives to take away and certainly plenty to work on tomorrow and Friday."

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McMahon was right. The Tigers weren't world-beaters Wednesday. The offense was solid, as guard Adam Miller led the Tigers in scoring with 18 points in his return from a torn ACL. But LSU struggled on defense, mightily. The Tigers surrendered 63 points to Kansas City (0-2) despite the Roos shooting 11% from 3-point range and 33% from the field.

LSU also failed to dominate the glass, only outrebounding Kansas City by seven. And turnovers in the second half made it a tighter contest than it should have been.

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"In the last 10 minutes of the game, we really made some eye-opening poor decisions that led to turnovers and allowed them to hang around those final eight minutes," McMahon said.

Despite the performance, McMahon kept things positive with his team, admitting he will have to be more patient than usual with his team breaking in so many new pieces.

"Coach Matt, he's a very energetic guy," forward KJ Williams said. "He's getting us ready for this game, telling us to block out all of the negative thoughts and all of the other stuff."

McMahon's energy carried over until after the final whistle, as he walked into a room ready to soak him.

And while he was getting drenched, this thought surely crossed his mind: If LSU intends on celebrating more wins with showers in March, the Tigers will have to play a lot better than they did on Wednesday.

"It's Nov. 9. So, first game. We've got to get back in the gym and get better and hopefully show continuous improvement," McMahon said.

Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at kriley@theadvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.