After heading into the locker room tied at 37, the LSU Tigers showed up in a big way in the second half Saturday afternoon, outscoring the Ole Miss Rebels by 16 points to easily cruise to their fifth conference victory. LSU improves their record to 14-10 (5-7) behind Duop Reath’s 26 points, while Ole Miss falls to a pitiful 11-14 (4-8).
Last week in the PMAC, the Tigers fought off Texas A&M by nailing a season-high 15 three pointers of the 30 they attempted. They would need to find another scoring method, as the perimeter could only turn in a 26.1% performance from beyond the arc. Luckily, LSU has Duop Reath and Aaron Epps in their corner.
Duop Reath was an absolute monster in the first half, shooting 7-of-8 from the field for 18 points, including a three pointer from the corner. He would need to sit a good bit at the start of the second half due to a little foul trouble, but the senior would go on to finish with 26 points and 5 rebounds in only 24 minutes. Reath’s performance warranted a 177 Offensive Rating according to KenPom, his best performance of his short Division-1 career. Will Wade knew Reath’s performance would be key, and planned to feed the ball to his star forward early and often.
“Yes. Early, often,” Wade said after the game. “We put some of those subs in in the first half and they decided they didn’t want to throw the ball into him. If you don’t want to do what we tell you to do, you’re going to sit. Throw the ball into Duop. He was dominating. Then we decided not to throw the ball into him because we don’t like to win or we don’t like leads. I don’t understand why. But, you’re supposed to throw the ball inside.”
Aaron Epps, LSU’s second senior power forward, came through in some really big spots this afternoon, and he would finish with 11 points and just one rebound shy of his fourth double-double of the season. In another game that saw the opponent win the rebounding battle, I can’t help but think we’d be having a different discussion if Epps didn’t turn in his dominant performance on the boards. “Coach talks about that every day,” Epps said about his rebounding efforts. “He just wants us to be active out there. Just to be tough really.”
LSU built a fourteen point lead in the first half, a lead that would completely dissolve by halftime. The Tigers were able to build another huge lead in the second half, mostly due to the performance of sophomore guard Skylar Mays.
“It was a tied game so I just tried to come out aggressive and I got open looks early,” said Mays. “I was able to knock down shots. Tre did a great job finding me.” Tremont “Tre” Waters didn’t shoot very well this afternoon, but still managed to finish with 11 points and 8 assists. Waters is now on three game streak of dishing out more than 5 assists.
The Tigers will enjoy this afternoon’s victory for a short moment, as they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide Tuesday evening. The Tide beat LSU in the PMAC mid January 74-66, amid some serious officiating controversy. The Tigers look for revenge in the Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night at 8pm on the SEC Network.