Behind 21 points from Trendon Watford and a 16 point, 16 rebound double-double by Darius Days, the LSU Tigers (10-4, 2-0) protected home court and held off the Arkansas Razorbacks (12-2, 1-1) 79-77 Wednesday evening.
LSU came into the game with a significant height advantage and exploited it. The Tigers out-rebounded Arkansas 53 to 24 including a staggering 23-3 edge on the offensive end. LSU’s 23 offensive rebounds led to 24 second chance points, while Arkansas couldn’t convert any of its three boards into points.
Darius Days had arguably his best night as a Tiger as the sophomore forward recorded his sixth double-double of the season. Days had 16 points and 16 rebounds, nine of which came on the offensive end.
Days had a strong inside-outside game. When he wasn’t grabbing rebounds, he hit back-to-back threes at the top of the key late in the first half to trim a 10-point deficit to four. Days’ threes were the exclamation point on a 13-5 run that got LSU within three at halftime.
Watford carried the Tigers in the second half. Watford took over late in the game and scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and drew and-ones on consecutive possessions in the game’s final 30 seconds. He made all five of his second half free throws and ended the night 7-8 at the line overall.
Arkansas got off to a fast start. The Razorbacks would lead by as many as 11 points in the first half thanks in large part to Mason Jones and Jimmy Whitt Jr. Jones made three three-pointers in the opening half while Whitt’s midrange jumper was automatic, going 6-8. Jones would lead all scorers with 24 points but fouled out while Whitt finished with 22 points.
LSU was able to keep up with Arkansas in the first half thanks to 12 points from senior guard Skylar Mays and nine from Days. The opening minutes of the second half was a back and forth affair, but LSU was able to go on an 11-3 run to flip a one-point deficit into a seven-point lead.
Watford and Whitt Jr. were trading baskets in the game’s waning minutes, but it was Watford who hit the game winning jump shot. Arkansas’ Isaiah Joe tried to save the game for the Hogs but LSU’s Charles Manning Jr. blocked the shot; Manning’s deflection found its way toward Arkansas’ Desi Sills but his last second heave wouldn’t come close to the basket thanks to the combined efforts of Manning Jr. and sophomore point guard Javonte Smart.
LSU is back on the PMAC floor Saturday evening as the Tigers host Mississippi State at 7 P.M. on ESPN.