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LSU Basketball

LSU winning when shots are not falling

February 1, 2019

For the second consecutive game, LSU’s shooting was subpar.

The Tigers made 37 percent of their field goal attempts at Texas A&M on Wednesday night. Unlike the previous game at Missouri where it shot 35 percent from the field, LSU pulled away in the second half for a comfortable 15-point victory. No rally and no overtime were needed as was the case at Columbia.

The manner in which the Tigers handled business against the Aggies pleased coach Will Wade.

“It is not just making shots,” Wade said. “I love the way we got on the offensive glass. We had 21 offensive rebounds. I love the way we defended. You can hang in there and win a lot of games when you rebound and defend. You can really be special when you shoot the ball well also.”

Tremont Waters was LSU’s star of the game with his season-high of 36 points. He knocked down six 3-pointers, the most in his career. Wade gave credit to Waters for what he did on both ends of the court. In addition, he identified a number of other Tigers players for being responsible for the victory.

“Tre was tremendous on offense,” Wade said. “But, he set the tone with the way he guarded (TJ) Starks from the start. Skylar Mays had one of the best defensive performances I have ever seen against (Wendell) Mitchell. He was 1-for-8 after scoring 22 points in the second half against Kansas State.

“Sky contested every single shot. He made Mitchell go to his weak hand. He was locked in. Marlon Taylor was locked in on (Savion) Flagg. Darius Days got on the offensive boards. He was great. Darius brings a lot more than making shots.”

Finally, Wade gave an example of how this team is developing. The player he referenced was Naz Reid, who missed nine of his 11 field goal attempts.

“Naz had a corner-three available,” Wade said. “Two or three weeks ago, Naz would have shot the ball to get out of his slump. This time, he put the ball on the floor and drove to the basket. He drew a foul and made two free throws. That got him going. That was a smart play. It showed his growth.”

LSU will go for its 11th straight victory and an 8-0 record in the Southeastern Conference when Arkansas comes to the PMAC on Saturday (5 p.m. Central/SEC Network). The Tigers, whose 17-3 overall record is their best in 38 seasons, is getting some notoriety from numerous college basketball analysts.

Wade understands that LSU has not accomplished anything substantial so far this season.

“We didn’t come here to win 17 games,” Wade said. “We have set ourselves up to have a big month-and-a-half. Now, it is time to make things happen. The bigger the stuff is around you, the more you must narrow your focus. If you let all that other stuff leak in, you’re in trouble.

“All we do is talk about winning the day. We need to stack some of those good days together. We have some good people. They are all caring. We have one shot at this. We just as well ought to enjoy it. Let’s not worry about the future. Let’s win what we are doing right now.”

What’s right now for the Tigers is a rematch with Arkansas. The Hogs have won their last two SEC games against Missouri and Georgia – both at home and both by double digits. The Razorbacks have lost two of their three road conference games – by 17 points at Ole Miss and 19 points at Tennessee.

Arkansas rallied to force overtime in the first meeting between the teams. LSU ended up with a 94-88 victory over the Razorbacks. Reid had 27 points. The Tigers had no answer for Arkansas post player Daniel Gafford, who finished with 32 points.

“We gave Gafford too may angles the first time,” Wade said. “We didn’t close out on him at the rim. We just didn’t make it work. We didn’t play as well as we need to play in that first game. We had to beat them in overtime. Arkansas is playing better now. We have to make some changes.”

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