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LSU Basketball

Another must-win game for Tigers

December 21, 2018

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Last Saturday, LSU came away with a much-needed victory against Saint Mary’s in Las Vegas.

The Tigers nearly lost all of a 15-point second-half advantage against the Gaels. But, Tremont Waters came through down the stretch to enable LSU to hold off Saint Mary’s 78-74.

After losing games to Florida State and Houston – two ranked teams – in which the Tigers held comfortable leads in the second half, they could not afford another setback to a top-100 NET opponent.

Now, LSU gets a chance to defeat another ranked team – this time at home. The Tigers play host to 12-0 Furman at the PMAC on Friday (7 p.m. Central/SEC Digital Network). LSU desperately needs a victory to give a boost to their non-conference body of work.

“Obviously, this is a big game,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “It’s a top-25 team at home. What you do in the non-conference is a big deal. We blew some other opportunities against Florida State and Houston. Those were at a neutral site and on the road.

“We can get a mulligan on those two since Furman is a top-25 team we were not expecting. Furman is deserving of its top-25 ranking. We must play one of our best, if not our best game, to win.”

Waters finally delivered a solid game against Saint Mary’s – one in which he was not in the starting lineup. Waters still was on the floor for 30 minutes and scored 18 points with three assists and only two turnovers.

“People get caught up in who is starting,” Wade said. “It matters more who’s there at the end of the game. We’re looking for solutions. Tremont did a great job. He could see the game a little bit better from the bench. We are going to change the starting lineup a lot according to the matchups.”

Waters understood why Wade put him on the bench for the Saint Mary’s game. In the previous five games, Waters committed 27 turnovers.

“I haven’t been playing up to my potential,” Waters said. “Coach Wade said he wanted a bigger lineup, so he started Marlon (Taylor). I will do whatever I can to help the team win. Sitting on the bench, I was able to watch the flow of the game. I had never come off the bench. It was a new perspective for me.”

Waters admitted that he is adjusting to his role of distributing the ball to talented players. Waters has always been the best player on his team.

“Growing up, I never played with high-level guys,” Waters said. “That includes middle school, AAU ball, travel ball. I am not used to playing in an up-tempo game with guys who can make the same reads as I can. I am trying to pick my shots more. Last year, I would shoot whenever I wanted to.”

Waters knows that he is still the Tigers’ go-to player despite the addition of talented freshmen like Naz Reid and Ja’vonte Smart.

“The coaches have made it known that when the game is tight, they want to get me the ball,” Waters said. “I am still going to be the guy.”

Waters acknowledged that the Tigers can definitely use a victory against Furman. SEC teams only have a 3-13 record in games against ranked opponents so far this season. LSU has two of those losses – against Florida State and Houston.

“We have to come out against Furman and play poised,” Waters said. “We are getting to the point where we have to lock down in every game. After getting big leads, we can’t get lackadaisical with the ball. We can’t get complacent.”

LSU will be the first power conference opponent for Furman. However, the Paladins did defeat 2018 Final Four participant Loyola Chicago and 2018 national champion Villanova. Both of those victories came on the road.

Furman’s best player is 6-8 senior Matt Rafferty, who is averaging 17 points, ten rebounds and five assists per game. Junior wing Jordan Lyons is contributing 18 points a game.

The Tigers have just one other game on the schedule before starting their Southeastern Conference schedule on Jan. 8 against Alabama. LSU will play host to Louisiana-Monroe next Friday.

“If we can close out our non-conference schedule strong, we’ll be in good shape,” Wade said. “We will be right where we need to be.”

LSU Tigers Colosseum You Can Do It Half-Snap Fleece Jacket – Heathered Charcoal
LSU Tigers Colosseum You Can Do It Half-Snap Fleece Jacket – Heathered Charcoal

from: Fanatics

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