The University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers may have played spoiler to No. 1 Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, but they couldn’t upset the Tigers Tuesday night in the PMAC as LSU won 77-50.
Three Tigers were in double-digit scoring in the victory — forward Darius Days (10), forward Trendon Watford (12), and guard Charles Manning Jr. (16) — while Days and Watford both had double-doubles with 10 and 12 rebounds respectively.
This is Days’ second career double-double and his second in two games. LSU coach Will Wade emphasized how important Days is to the success of this team.
“It feels great,” Days said. “I wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for my teammates. I hit a backdoor when (Javonte Smart) saw me with a layup and one. On the other side, Charles hit me on the and one.”
Though the Tigers pulled out a victory, there was reason for worry early in the game.
LSU once again got off to a super slow start offensively and by the first media timeout, the Tigers trailed 9-1. The Tigers’ first field goal of the game came on a Darius Days put back seven minutes into the game to cut UMBC’s lead to 11-5.
After a timeout around the 10-minute mark, the Tigers hit their groove and flipped a switch. They went on a 12-0 run to take the lead at 25-17 with 4:30 left in the half.
LSU continued to a 29-6 run to close the half and made the final 10 shots that were taken. After opening 0-for-9 in the first half, the Tigers made 15 of their last 20 field goals to lead 39-23 at halftime.
“Just moving the ball, cutting and hitting the open man (worked well late in the half),” Days said. “Nothing too much, it’s simple. We kind of made it hard with the turnovers during the last couple of games.”
The Tigers picked up where they left off in the second half, dominating even when the second team went in. LSU coach Will Wade felt like a big part of the Tigers’ comfortable lead was the lack of turnovers compared to the last few games.
LSU had three turnovers in the first five minutes of the game before going 12 minutes without turning it over again. Wade felt that the turnovers that took place in the second half were mostly a product of guys on the court who aren’t normally playing together.
While 15 turnovers is still too many for Wade, he was pleased with the progress.
“The biggest thing too is that we didn’t turn them over in bunches,” Wade said. “We had one stretch in the second half where we turned it over four out of six possessions, but we had a mix-match of guys that don’t really play with each other. The biggest thing was not turning them over in bunches and we were able to not do that tonight.”
Wade said he was happy to get guys who play major minutes like Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart some rest, as well as getting Manning and Bishop more time and confidence on the court. Wade said that he thought Manning looked more comfortable coming off the bench and that Bishop played under more control than he had in the first few games.
“We made progress,” Wade said. “We’re not where we need to be, but we’re not where we were.”