Having finally started a second half without a significant lull, the LSU Tigers burst out of the locker room from halftime to knock off the red-hot #18 Ole Miss Rebels 83-69 Tuesday night. Ole Miss drops to 13-3 (2-1) while the Tigers improve to 13-3 (3-0) and extend their winning streak to six games.
Against Arkansas, LSU led by 8 at halftime and ended up having to win in overtime. They led Alabama by as many as 19 points before the Tide chipped away to get the game within four. Tonight, both teams went to halftime with 31 points, but the Tigers managed 52 points in one of their best second halves of the season.
It hardly felt like the game even started in the first half, it even took 5:57 of game play for both teams to break double digits...combined. Both teams shot 36% from the field in the first half, and they combined for 19 turnovers and 21 fouls. It was a pretty ugly twenty minutes of basketball, but don’t underestimate how important it was to tie the game up before the half.
The two teams traded good licks to start the second half, including a Kavell Bigby-Williams steal and fastbreak dunk. The Tigers went on an 8-0 run right after the under 16 timeout, and never relinquished the lead from that point on. That 8-0 run was capped off by another awesome effort by Tremont Waters to grab a steal between two Rebels, throw it from the ground to a wide open Naz Reid, and Reid finishing the job with a dunk.
Tremont Waters was tied for fourth in the nation heading into tonight's game with three steals per game.— LSU Basketball (@LSUBasketball) January 16, 2019
He had three tonight including this one which @NazReid
finished on the other end! pic.twitter.com/zh7RDEfYSp
As mentioned in that tweet, Tremont Waters finished the night with another three steals, and led the Tigers with 20 points and 9 assists, falling only one assist short of the same type of double-double he recorded Saturday. Tre scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half, mostly as a result of just facilitating the game well. He only attempted 4 three pointers and converted half of them, but the abundance of offensive weapons on the court gave Waters more than enough room to use his speed to get to the rim.
Kavell Bigby-Williams rivaled his earlier 14/13/5 performance against Alabama with a 14 point, 10 rebound, 5 block effort tonight, and against a stronger team on the road to boot. The super senior may have recorded his fourth double-double of the season off points and rebounds, but it was his rim protection that kept the Rebels from having their way in the paint as they usually do.
Skylar Mays and Marlon Taylor round out the remaining double digit scorers, dropping 14 and 12 points respectively and grabbing 5 rebounds each. Mays actually shot a pretty poor 3-of-10 from the field, but all three conversions were three pointers and he made up the rest of the ground with free throws. Mays is becoming something of a workhorse for the team; he stayed on the court for 34 minutes and makes the team smarter when he’s out there. Keep your eyes on him for a few defensive possessions in the next game, it’s fascinating to watch his Basketball IQ in motion.
Neither I nor KenPom thought the Tigers could take both games of this short road trip, but here we are two wins richer and working on a six game winning streak. LSU jumped up to 30th in KenPom’s rankings as I type this, and they’ll surely be ranked by the Associated Press if the winning streak extends to seven this weekend. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here—we did have early back-to-back conference wins on the road last season—but this team is finally starting to come into their own and we should be in for a fun year.
The Tigers return to Baton Rouge this weekend to take on the 8-7 (3-0) South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks struggled through their out of conference schedule, but currently find themselves alone with Tennessee and LSU as the three remaining undefeated SEC teams. That game will tip off at 5pm and will be televised on the SEC Network.