Banged up and running on fumes, the LSU Tigers could never get it going against the Utah Utes tonight as they fell by a final score of 95-71. Utah advances to the NIT quarterfinals, while LSU’s season comes to an end with an 18-15 record.
The Tigers found themselves down 10 points only five minutes into the game, and down 19 points by the end of the first quarter. It was a frightening reminder of earlier road games: the perimeter got destroyed and it rained threes. By the end of the first half, the Utes had scored 47 points on 27 attempts. The Tigers made it hard for themselves early, and they’d never be able to get back in it.
Despite being a relatively poor rebounding team, the Utes completely demolished the Tigers on the boards 37-26, as the 6’10” Utah duo completely took advantage of Reath and company’s smaller size. Couple that rebounding dominance with Utah’s 14 three pointers, LSU never really had a chance. The Tigers just aren’t equipped to make up that kind of deficit on the road.
As expected, Tremont Waters had the best game of his team, scoring 19 points with 8 assists. Several times throughout the game his recently operated-on nose bothered him or took some painful contact, but Waters stuck in there fighting hard all game. Not only has his offensive prowess and athletic moves in the paint impressed me, his character and the way he represents himself on and off the court convinces me our team will have some fantastic leadership next season.
Sophomore Skylar Mays tacked on 16 points off 10 shots himself, Aaron Epps scored a tough 12 points, and Onwuasor broke 10 points after some late-game mop up duty. Smaller individual performances aside, it’s hard to praise any bit of LSU’s game tonight. They were completely outclassed by a more talented team on the road, it happens. This one just happened to end the season.
It’s a quiet, embarrassing ending to the season, but do not be mistaken: this season was a huge success for Will Wade’s first year. He took the scraps of a 10-21 embarrassment of a team, added some new guys on very short notice, and outperformed the last place predictions by finishing only one game behind .500 in SEC play. No banners will ever hang for an 18-15 season, but it’s a very bright sight to those Tiger fans who know what awaits in 2018-19. We have a coach who cares, we have players who care, and we’re about to have the pedigree to paste it all together. Expect a season recap shortly.