By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
BATON ROUGE, LA:: With the team sitting on the NCAA Tourney bubble the Tigers find themselves in desperate need of more wins on their regular season schedule. Today they would add a huge one as they would take down #16 Tennessee in a dominating 78-65 victory in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Tigers have won two in a row as they hope to have turned things around, heading into the season's home stretch. This one was fun to watch.
Tennessee would control the opening tip and misfire down low. The Tigers would get on the board quick on their first trip down the court as Cam Thomas would find Darius Days under the basket for an assist as Days would bank it in off the glass, 2-0 Tigers.
Both teams love to push the ball, so it was no surprise that the game started at a speedy pace. Each team would trade three point shots, followed by jumper by Tennessee's Keon Johnson to tie the game at 5-5 at the 18:11 mark.
With both teams shooting the ball well, LSU would go on a 11-7 run over the next seven minutes, highlighted by a three pointer from Aundre Hyatt from the deep corner... The Tigers would hold a 16-12 lead with 11:10 left on the clock.
Will Wade had his team playing under control with desire as they were playing a very good first half both offensively and on defense. LSU would go on a 12-4 run over the next six minutes to extend their lead to 28-16 with 4:48 to go. During the run, the Tigers defense held Tennessee without a basket for a little over four minutes.
The Vols would begin to surge to go on a 10-3 run over the next three minutes to cut the LSU lead to five, 31-26 with 1:41 left.
We would go scoreless the rest of the way as LSU would lead at the half, 31-26.
Javonte Smart would lead LSU at the half with 11 points. Cam Thomas battled a slow start by finishing with 7 at the half, while Watford and Days would both add 5 points each.
The Vols would come out in the second half with new found energy as they would quickly cut the
LSU lead to one, 33-32 at the 18:42 mark.
Even with Tennessee improving their game play, the Tigers would continue to make things happen as LSU on a 24-14 run over the next seven minutes as Javonte Smart would lead the Tigers attack on the Vols. 57-46, Tigers with 11:21 to go.
LSU would continue playing one of their finest games of the season as they would continue to shoot the ball very well and remain tough defensively, building a 15 point lead, 68-53 with 4:52 left in the game.
The Volunteers would come close to cutting LSU's lead into single digits as the score would sit at 70-60 at the 3:21 mark, but the Tigers were the better team today as they need as many wins as they can earn before the postseason. LSU would build a 16 point lead, 76-60 with 1:34 left and would go onto finish off the Vols, 78-65. With the win, LSU is now 13-6 overall and 8-4 in the SEC.
The Tigers played probably their most complete game of the season Saturday as they were very good on both ends of the floor. Cam Thomas would finish with a team high 25 points. ... Javonte Smart would once again have a great game against Tennessee as he would end up with 20 points. Darius Days finally picked up his game after being quiet over the past few contest as he would add 14 points. Watford would finish with only nine points as he continues to struggle with his shots in the paint, but still gave the Vols fits on both ends of the floor. Aundre Hyatt and Eric Gaines both had quality minutes making several nice plays.
WILL WADE after the WIN::
“Proud of our guys. I thought we played one of our better games, probably our best game to date. We can certainly play better and finish the game off better. I thought we got contributions from everyone. Javonte (Smart) was obviously tremendous. Cam (Thomas), phenomenal game. (Darius) Days did a great job. But, Aundre Hyatt, eight points, eight rebounds. Two big threes. He was huge. (Eric) Gaines and (Josh) LeBlanc did a phenomenal job defensively. I thought it was a total team effort. Probably our most complete game to date. It is something that we can continue to build off of. I thought that we got better from (Mississippi) State (LSU’s last opponent) to this game and now we have to build off this game and get better before we play midweek this week.”
Next up on the LSU's schedule is a home contest against Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 20th at 3:00pm. Due to the Tigers losing a game against Florida due to COVID-19, Coach Wade has stated that they will schedule and play a mid-week game next. Opponent, Location, Day, and time to be announced...