Tremont Waters and Riley LaChance spent the better part of the second half trying to outscore each other, and thankfully it was the former who won that battle while helping his squad to their seventh SEC victory. The LSU Tigers improved their record to 16-11 (7-8) Tuesday night after knocking down the Vanderbilt Commodores (11-17, 5-10) by a score of 88-78.
The tone for the rest of the game was set with eight seconds left in the first half. The Tigers were up 36-29 after an incredibly strong defensive stand, and Will Wade called a timeout. Wade remembered what happened in Nashville, and knew no amount of points against Vanderbilt would be too many. Tre Waters nailed a three pointer from the Cox logo as time expired, and the Tigers found themselves with a ten point lead at halftime.
Speaking of Tremont Waters, the freshman phenom found himself in the LSU record books tonight, as he broke Ben Simmons’ record for most assists by a freshman. As if dropping 28 points on 18 shots wasn’t enough, his 9 assists for the night brings his season total to 160.
“He was in total control, thought his pace was really good,” said Wade after the game. “I was yelling at him to do one thing, and he had already seen it, he was making good reads. None of his stuff was all that fancy, just good stuff.”
Three other Tigers tacked on double digit numbers this evening, an impressive mark that surely made the difference amid Duop Reath’s limited availability, partially due to an ankle injury. Wayde Sims started the game in Reath’s place, and answered the call with a 6-of-6 performance from the field for a career-high 16 points.
“I knew ’Wop was hurt, so I had to step up and fill his role tonight,” said Sims after the game. He nailed a huge three pointer late in the game, and it affected how Vandy played him from that point on. “They opened up the driving lane for the guards, they were able to get in a lot easier after that shot.”
Aaron Epps tacked on 15 points with 8 rebounds, and sophomore Skylar Mays added 14 points of his own, but more importantly recorded 4 steals and 2 assists. As a team, the Tigers dished out 18 assists on only 6 turnovers, and shot an incredible 62.5% from the field. Yes, that’s the actual number, and that number was 75% in the second half alone.
Tonight’s win is a pretty special mark, in that they’ve guaranteed a winning regular season record. After going 10-21 (2-16) last season, sitting pretty at 16-11 (7-8) is one hell of an accomplishment for this team and coaching staff, with only more to come. The Tigers hit the road this Saturday, and they will take on the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia previously sneaked out of the PMAC with a 61-60 win in mid-January, and I’m sure the Tigers have similar revenge plans for them as they did the Commodores this evening.