Despite a limited Naz Reid, poor free throw shooting and being out-rebounded, the LSU Tigers held off a feisty LA Tech for their fourth straight win in as many tries. This marks the first time LSU Basketball started a season 4-0 since Johnny Jones’ 2012-13 squad won their first six games.
The Bulldogs proved to be the toughest competition for the Tigers so far this season, snagging 16 offensive rebounds on 37 chances and leading the game for over eleven minutes.
Star freshman Naz Reid didn’t start the game this evening, and only played a total of nine minutes during the game. He would finish with 4 points off 7 shot attempts, and seemed to treat his ankle gingerly while running the floor.
“I knew we were going to need guys to step up. I knew Naz was banged up. Just didn’t know how much he could do today,” said Wade after the game.
The Tigers had four players score in double digits this evening, led by Ja’vonte Smart. The freshman guard finished with 16 points on 10 shot attempts, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. His line doesn’t quite blow you away, but his 9 second half points, especially the three-bounce three pointer, always seemed to fall at the perfect time to either kill a Bulldog rally or help LSU dig out of a hole. His three pointer with 2:06 left would put the Tigers ahead 65-62 and they wouldn’t look back.
“Shoutout to Tremont for the assist,” Smart noted. “I just stepped in and made the big shot. That is what players do. I am a freshman, but I will take the shot.”
Coach Wade made note of the go-ahead trey after the game, saying it was Wayde Sims helping from above.
Sophomore Tremont Waters tacked on 14 points tonight, but heavily contributed to LSU’s poor three point shooting and struggling to pull away from the Bulldogs. Waters added 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals to his stat line, but gave up three turnovers and went 1-of-7 from the arc.
Skylar Mays and Daryl Edwards finished the night with 12 points apiece. Mays continues to play with unbelievably high energy, having me get dumb and tweet in all caps for his spinning, backwards layups and backwards dunks. Edwards, who came into the game averaging 1.3 points, scored an early 8 in the first half and added two big assists. As someone listed after Marshall Graves on the season stat sheet, Edwards needed a performance like his tonight.
“I thought Daryl played his best game, certainly this year and maybe since he’s been here,” said Will Wade. “Twelve points in 19 minutes, two assists, no turnovers. He was aggressive at the end of the press...I knew we needed some other guys to be able to step up and carry some of (Reid’s) slack. I thought Daryl was well positioned to do that and he did that.”
All of that said, it may have been LSU’s defense that helped keep their record perfect tonight. The Tigers blocked seven total shots, led by Bigby-Williams’ three big swats, bringing his average up to 2.3 per game.
The real winning number, however, is 17 LA Tech turnovers to LSU’s 7. The Tigers would score 22 points off the Bulldogs’ turnovers to Tech’s 9. Five total Bulldogs ended the night with multiple turnovers, a mark of which Coach Konkol surely isn’t proud.
“It was the turnovers for us,” Konkol said after the game. “We left a lot of shots out on the court by not taking care of the basketball enough. We have to give LSU some credit because they did a lot of things to make that challenging tonight.”
The Tigers will take flight like the majestic turkey to beautiful Kissimmee, Florida next week to participate in the AdvoCare Invitational. They will take on the 3-0 Charleston Cougars Thanksgiving night at 6pm and either UAB or Florida State on Friday.