After a very sloppy beginning that saw a 9-4 UT-Martin lead at the first media timeout, the Tigers and Coach Wade shaped up their play enough for this blowout win, a performance Tiger fans didn’t get to see much of last year.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start,” said Coach Wade. “But then Darryl got us going with his shooting.” Edwards came into the game while LSU was down early, and made two quick three pointers. He finished the first half with 10 points.
During that slow start, it was pretty clear the Tigers were missing the injured Brandon Sampson and the benched Duop Reath.
“Epps can hedge a ball screen, so we’re gonna put our best guy out there who can hedge the ball screen,” said Wade after the game. Not much else was said about Reath not starting tonight, although he finished with 15 points in 21 minutes.
Honestly, some of the slow start could be blamed on the tempo, or lack thereof. Tonight’s officiating crew took some solid liberties with their whistles tonight, sending the game into halftime with eighteen combined fouls called. LSU’s game so far has thrived in a quicker tempo (don’t watch the Notre Dame game), and the fouls really took the Tigers out of their game, and never let the crowd enjoy the game until late in the first half.
The turning point of the first half was a very small, yet significant event. LSU scored to go up 26-14, and lazily let the Skyhawks drive down for an easy bucket to bring the game back within ten points. Coach Wade called a timeout and immediately stormed onto the field, yelling at any and every one of his players. He was furious. The crowd, albeit lightly, acknowledged this and cheered. The Tigers went on a 7-0 run after that timeout.
Despite what Coach Wade had to say after the game, there were some really impressive individual performances tonight. Tremont Waters wasn’t the three point threat that he’s shown to be so far this season, as a matter of fact he only shot 2-10 from the field. Yet again, though, despite the poor shooting, Waters still managed to make his team that much better when he’s on the floor. He logged 10 assists and 4 steals while only turning the ball over once in 34 minutes.
Skylar Mays led the Tigers in scoring tonight, finishing with 18 points and shooting 50% from the field, and weirdly recording LSU’s only block. Duop Reath and Daryl Edwards both scored 15 points of their own, with the former finishing only one rebound shy of a double double.
All in all, it was an easy win, but nothing to be excited about. UT-Martin is a bad team, and frankly it felt like neither the team nor the crowd could really get up for the matchup. The improvement in preventing turnovers is encouraging, but I really wouldn’t look too far into a game like this to draw any conclusions about the rest of the season. It’s another W, and it’s 40 more minutes of film for Wade and his players to study.
The Tigers spend the next week studying for and passing all of their finals with flying colors, and don’t play another game until Sunday, December 10th. That contest will be against the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks (hey, baseball fans!) at 4pm.