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POSTGAME: LSU 80, Sam Houston St. 58

Tigers blow out the Bearkats with a balanced attack

NCAA Basketball: Stephen F. Austin at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

After taking most of the first half to take the lead from Sam Houston St., the LSU Tigers (7-3) cruised to an easy victory after a dominant second half.

“Changing our defenses I think helped us out,” Wade said after the game. In addition to lineup changes, the Tigers switched to a 1-3-1 zone on defense. “We had active hands, we got some steals out of it. I thought our guys were pretty active up top.”

Coach Wade shook up his starting rotation before the game, adding Duop Reath and Daryl Edwards in place of Wayde Sims and Randy Onwuasor, respectively. Both Reath and Edwards capitalized on their starting opportunity, scoring 11 points apiece.

But the players they replaced took the benching as a wake up call, and answered accordingly.

Sophomore forward Wayde Sims stepped up big time tonight, earning his first career double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, three of those on offense. Coach Wade’s big issue with some starters was a lack of production, specifically on defense. Sims answered by leading both teams with three blocks. “He was much more ready to play tonight than he has for a couple games,” added Wade. “I think that showed.”

Randy Onwuasor, replaced in the starting lineup by Daryl Edwards, took and missed only two shots in the first half. He would take over for point guard duty later in the second half, and made all five shots he attempted, finishing with 13 points.

Skylar Mays again shined big time for the Tigers, arguably having the game of the night. While he didn’t earn a double double like Sims, the sophomore guard tied Onwuasor with 13 points, and led the Tigers with 5 assists and 4 steals.

Noticeably missing from LSU’s usual game was their sound free throw shooting. I know I’m grasping for things to complain about in a 22 point win, but 11-of-20 from the charity stripe is something that’ll catch your eye, win or lose.

The bad takeaways really end there, as any threat of a bad game ended once LSU took over the game with three minutes left in the first half. The Tigers had five players score double digits, and dished out 11 assists to only 8 turnovers.

The slow start to the game was a bit disturbing, but there’s clearly a culture of accountability being built into the program through ten games. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll probably drop more games than we’re comfortable with once SEC play starts, but it’ll be different than last year. It already is different. The players care and know that a lack of effort will result in fewer minutes or losing a starting spot. Will Wade, ever impassioned in the coach’s box, committed his second technical foul of the season in a blowout against a Southland team. These LSU Tigers give a damn.

On a sour note, it appears forward Jeremy Combs is probably done for the season. “He’s pretty banged up, I don’t know if he’ll be back this year,” Coach Wade said quietly. “We’re not here to risk anybody’s health. He’s probably played his last basketball.” Combs came to LSU with a preexisting ankle injury that hasn’t fully healed. The North Texas grad transfer played 52 minutes over six games for the Tigers this season, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

LSU will play their final out of conference home game against the North Florida Ospreys (5-9) this Friday night. That contest will tip off at 7pm in the PMAC, and will be televised on the SEC Network+.