In what was billed as an intriguing early non-conference game and LSU’s biggest challenge yet, the Tigers (5-0) not only beat Belmont they destroyed the Bruins 83-53.
The new look LSU defense, once again, came out to play and put the Bruins in a chokehold. Belmont came into Monday night’s game averaging 88 points a game; tonight they were held to 35 points off their season average. Belmont actually drew first blood, jumping out to a 7-0 lead at the under-16 timeout. But LSU regrouped and proceeded to run Belmont off the PMAC floor.
“It was a great effort by our guys,” Will Wade said after the game. “Got off to a bit of a shaky start, but I was proud of their urgency and their discipline. Belmont is a really good offensive team, a top-30 offense in the country, but we did a good job swarming around, blocking shots.”
Four Tigers cracked double digit points and Darius Days just missed the cut with nine points. Freshman guard Brandon Murray tied for the LSU lead in scoring with 15 points and was a perfect 3-3 from deep; Xavier Pinson had his best game in the purple and gold with 14 points, 4 rebounds, and a pair of assists; and Tari Eason made his presence known coming off the bench with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, a block and assist all in 19 minutes.
“What more can you say about Tari,” Wade said. “He brings his lunch pail and makes things happen. He did a really nice job. Brandon Murray was tremendous. Xavier played great to get us going in the first half and picked up our offense.”
Monday was about as thorough a beating as you could have in a basketball game. LSU had almost as many points in the paint (50), as Belmont did total. The Tigers had 11 more rebounds than Belmont, had a +15 advantage from bench production, and used 16 turnovers to score 21 points.
“This is a new LSU,” Pinson said. “We feed off of defense. When we’re good defensively, we’re good offensively. That dictates our offense.”