The LSU men’s basketball team picked up arguably its best victory of the 2019-20 season with a 74-57 win over the previously undefeated Liberty University Flames Sunday afternoon in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Liberty came into the game 14-0 and one of the best defensive teams in the nation. The Flames (14-1) were second in the nation in points allowed and sixth in field goal percentage. But LSU (8-4) cracked the Liberty defense and the Flames allowed a season-worst 74 points.
Four Tigers scored double digit points. Sophomore forward Darius Days led the way with 14, senior guard Skylar Mays had 12, sophomore guard Javonte Smart had 11 points, and junior guard Charles Manning Jr. had 12 points off the bench.
The opening 20 minutes was a back and forth affair. Neither Liberty nor LSU could build much of a lead. Over the course of the first half’s final four minutes, LSU doubled up the Flames 12-6 and went into the half with a 32-26 lead.
In the second half, Liberty was able to get within two points but LSU countered and got two layups from Smart and a third by freshman forward Trendon Watford. Later in the half, LSU would go on a 14-2 run and lead by as many as 17 points. Liberty would get the game within single digits, but the Tigers responded by going 7-9 from the field and put the game out of reach.
LSU needed the win after dropping its last two contests. LSU got waxed by East Tennessee State and came up short in Los Angeles against USC. The Tigers could not afford to go into SEC play on a three game losing skid.
“Desperation is the proper word,” Will Wade said. “We needed a little desperation and a little urgency. We had to play smarter and and play with an edge today. I thought we played maybe our best game.”
Turnovers have plagued LSU all season long but Sunday the Tigers only turned the ball over six times. In fact, Liberty would not score a single point off those six turnovers, while LSU got 23 points off the 13 turnovers it forced.
“It’s huge,” Skylar Mays said. “Especially in a game like this where they like to slow the game down and play a pretty slow pace as far as their tempo.”
LSU closes out 2019 and the non-conference portion of its schedule 8-4. The Tigers open SEC play on Saturday as LSU travels to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.