After going to the locker room with a confident twelve point lead, the LSU Tigers would spend the better part of the second half fighting off a strong Cajuns comeback effort to win 84-76, advance to the second round of the NIT against #2 Utah, and improve to an 18-14 record. Between the pregame smack talk and the seemingly 70/30 crowd split, the game stayed close, exciting, and a little bit chippy. Two double-technical fouls were called by the time the clock ran out, the latter called on the benches after Will Wade called a cheeky timeout with an 8 point lead and only 12 seconds left.
Will Wade timeout. Yells at Bob Marlin. Oh boy. pic.twitter.com/KuufTDR9fv— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) March 15, 2018
“Since they don’t get to play us very often, I thought they should get to sit there and enjoy playing us,” said a heated Wade after the win.
When asked about his thoughts on all of the talk and drama before and during the game, Wade went on one hell of a rant, not pulling any punches for the now 27-7 Ragin’ Cajuns.
“Their RPI is higher than ours. They also played the 213th strength of schedule. We had the 54th rated strength of schedule. We had the 122nd strength of schedule out of conference, they had 172nd. We have nine quadrant 1 and 2 wins. They have one. I know they like to talk about their 27 wins and their RPI. Unfortunately the RPI doesn’t count wins over Xavier New Orleans and Louisiana College. 24 of their 25 wins were against Quad 3 and 4, including an 18 point loss at Ole Miss who came in last place in our league.”
No dodging questions tonight. And no one can deny Wade’s passion and loyalty for LSU Basketball. Here’s LSU’s postgame presser, I implore you to enjoy the full video (starts around the 4 minute mark).
Back to actual basketball, Duop Reath led the Tiger attack this evening, finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 steals. Through 63 career games with LSU, Reath has now logged a very impressive ten double-doubles. This kind of superstar performance has become the standard for Reath when the Tigers outsize the opponent, and it paid off dearly tonight.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Skylar Mays’ performance as well. Early in the game, Tremont Waters got into some foul trouble and had problems adjusting to the referees’ newfound inclination to call the carrying violation. Mays took over the point, and from there the Tigers recovered from a 10-2 deficit to take an 18-15 lead by the end of the first quarter. He would only finish with 11 points, but a +/- rating of +24 that certainly speaks for itself. The Tigers were without Brandon Rachal’s stout defense due to a suspension, so having Mays step up like he did tonight was certainly the game-changer.
That’s not to say Tre Waters had a particularly poor game, he still finished with 9 points and dished out 7 assists, regularly finding teammates Reath and Brandon Sampson wide open. The junior Sampson had a pretty impressive game himself, finishing with 18 points and 5 rebounds after a 7-of-9 effort from the free throw line.
The Tigers advance to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament, and will face the two-seed Utah Utes Monday night at 8pm on ESPNU. Like Coach Wade told Bob Marlin with twelve seconds left in the game, “Enjoy that!”