It got a little closer than it probably needed to be at the end there, but the #23 LSU Tigers are 2-0 to start the season after a 97-91 victory over UNC Greensboro. The Tigers were kept in check by an incredible performance from the arc by the Spartans, but Naz Reid and fantastic free throw shooting would eventually prove LSU victorious.
LSU took a 49-36 lead to halftime, perhaps thinking the Spartans would continue cooling off from the field. UNC Greensboro led for about ten minutes in the first half before LSU reclaimed the lead and never really looked back.
Naz Reid, who led the Tigers with 17 points in the season opener Tuesday night, again led scoring this evening with a ridiculous 29 points. The freshman forward went 11-of-14 from the field, 4-of-6 from the arc and 3-of-3 from the free throw line. If you couldn’t get enough of the big man Tuesday, you’ve gotta catch his highlights from this evening.
It may have felt like a comfortable win in the end, but UNC Greensboro showed why they won 27 games last year and why they’ll probably find themselves in the Tournament again this season. The Spartans ended the night 19-of-33 from the three point line and beat LSU in the assist and turnover battles. I feel pretty comfortable in saying this could have easily been an LSU loss if it weren’t for Naz Reid and some incredible free throw shooting.
I’ve been covering LSU games for over two seasons now, and believe me when I stress what a breath of fresh air it is to see LSU shoot free throws like this. The Tigers never really got to blow the Spartans away, but finished 28-of-31 from the free throw line, good for 90%. Seventeen turnovers be damned, it’s hard to lose with that kind of performance from the charity stripe.
Tremont Waters fell short of the scoring party Tuesday with only 9 points, but he returned to the scoring podium tonight amid his sixth career double-double. The sophomore guard turned in 20 points, 10 assists, and 6 steals in his 36 minutes tonight, again showcasing his tendency to be the most reliable workhorse on Wade’s squad.
Ja’vonte Smart broke double digits for the second time this season, tacking on 13 points behind an 8-of-8 free throw performance. Freshman Darius Days finished just short with 9 points, including a three pointer of his own.
The Tigers will put their 2-0 at risk Tuesday night at the PMAC against the Memphis Tigers. Wade and LSU beat Memphis on the road last season 71-61, eventually proving to be one of their stronger wins of the season. That contest will tip off at 6pm and will be televised on the SEC Network.