I started most postgame threads last season lamenting some disappointing aspect of LSU’s play. Whether that be free throw shooting, poor effort on defense, or an embarrassment of turnovers, there was always something to complain about. Two games into this season, there’s really nothing to complain about at all.
Even last week, I mentioned the free throw shooting could’ve been a little better. Tonight they turned in a 19-20 effort, not to mention 29 team assists to only 9 turnovers. LSU may have allowed 15 three pointers from the Bulldogs on 15 assists, but they also forced Samford into 15 turnovers through 10 steals and 4 blocks.
Guard Brandon Sampson had a particularly great night, scoring 20 points and recording 8 rebounds and 7 assists. With every second Sampson and Tremont Waters spent on the court together, all five Tigers played as if they shared one consciousness. Skylar Mays tied Sampson to lead the Tigers in scoring with 20 points of his own.
As a team, LSU converted 39 field goals off 29 assists, 21 of those assists coming from Sampson, Waters, and starter Daryl Edwards. Edwards started in place of Tremont Waters tonight, and ultimately finished with 8 points and 6 assists, while managing to not turn the ball over once. Tremont Waters apparently hurt his ankle in the first minute of the Alcorn State game.
“Tremont was pretty hurt. He hadn’t practiced since the [Alcorn] game.” Coach Wade noted. “I thought Daryl did a good job, he guarded well and made good decisions. But Tre’s got to continue to improve and get healthy.”
After going into the locker rooms with LSU up 47-28, both teams turned in a tremendous, 58 point effort. After shooting 4-11 on three pointers in the first half, the Bulldogs shot 11-18 from beyond the arc to close out the game, which would’ve been a pretty big problem for the Tigers if they didn’t match the offensive intensity, shooting 66.7% from the field as a team in the second half.
While the offense gave Coach Wade plenty to be happy about, the defensive struggles in the second half definitely left him a bit peeved.
“The second half was just terrible,” said Coach Wade. “58 points should be what you give up in a game, not one half.” Despite the offensive display, Coach Wade is not at all satisfied with the 19 point victory.
“I was embarrassed. We couldn’t get off the court quick enough,” Wade added. “If that doesn’t improve, it’s gonna be a long trip out west. It takes a complete game to beat good teams, and we’ve yet to play a complete game.” It’s pretty refreshing to have a coach who refuses to be distracted by a 19 point win. There’s a ton of room for improvement on defense, and Coach Wade does not intend to ignore that room any time soon.
LSU will take their perfect, 2-0 record to Hawai’i next week for the 2017 edition of the Maui Invitational. The Tigers will tip off against the Michigan Wolverines Monday night at 10:30pm central on ESPNU, and will play either Notre Dame or Chaminade the following night. Their next home game will be on November 29th against UT Martin.