By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports
INDIANAPOLIS, IN: The Tigers would easily defeat the #9 seed St. Bonaventure in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon, 76-51. LSU started the game very slow offensively, but would hold a nine point lead at halftime, before shifting gears in the final 20 minutes to pull away for the win.
The Bonnies would control the opening tip in a game where early on both teams would struggle to score. LSU would get on the board first when Trendon Watford would score on a put back off of a missed Cam Thomas three pointer. 2-0 Tigers at the 17:26 mark.
St. Bon would answer with a layup by Osun Osunniyi 25 seconds later to tie things up at 2-2. With 6:17 left, Jaren Holes would make two free throws to put the Bonnies up 4-2.
The game was shaping up to play right into St. Bonaventure's style. A slow pace, half court, low scoring contest is what the Bonnies thrive on. Trendon Watford would also find himself in early foul trouble as he would commit two fouls early in the contest and would need to spend some minutes on the bench.
Both teams would struggle to put the ball in the hole over the next four minutes until Mwani Wilkinson would tip in a missed shot to tie things up at 4-4 with 12:12 left on the clock.
The pace of the game would slowly begin to pick up as shots would begin to fall. Jaren Holmes would hit a jumper to break the tie.
Javonte Smart would answer hitting a big three pointer, however Smart would be called for a technical foul for something said on the floor. This would give Smart two personal fouls early into the contest as well as Watford.
Kyle Lofton would make both free throws to put the Bonnies back up by one, 8-7 with 10:40 to go.
The game was now beginning to move at a normal pace as it seems that both teams were beginning to settle down, getting rid of any jitters or nerves and begin to feel the flow.
Watford would give the Tigers the lead back at the 10:00 mark with a nice three pointer, 10-8 LSU. You could begin to feel that the Tigers were finally starting to control the momentum and the pace as they would go on a 11-4 run over the next five minutes building a 21-12 lead with 5:28 left in the first half.
With both teams still shooting poorly, LSU would manage to extend their lead to 11, 29-18 with 2:38 to go after a pair of Cam Thomas free throws. The sloppy play would continue until the end of the first half as LSU would hold onto a 31-22 lead at the break.
Thomas and Watford would both finish the first half with 7 points each for the Tigers. Javonte Smart would have 5 points. LSU will need to push the ball more in the second half. They need to play angry and get physical with a team that is not even close to matching the Tigers talent level.
Darius Days would start things off hitting a three pointer just 13 seconds into the second half. Cameron Thomas would then hit a free throw after being fouled scoring a basket to complete the three point opportunity, putting LSU up 37-22 at the 19:11 mark.
Over the next three minutes, the Bonnies would go on a 11-8 run cutting LSU's lead to 45-33 as they would heat up from the outside, hitting three consecutive three pointers.
With 11:42 left in the game, LSU would hold onto a 51-41 lead, playing the last four minutes plus with Smart and Days both on the bench with three fouls each.
During the next six minutes both teams would basically play even, with LSU outscoring the Bonnies, 13-11 to build a 64-52 lead with 6:39 left to go in the contest.
The Tigers would simply begin to dominate St. Bon., controlling the game pace the rest of the way. Darius Days would hit a three pointer at the 3:51 mark, to put LSU up, 72-58.
Javonte Smart would hit two free throws with 1:17 left to increase the LSU lead and clinch the first round victory, 76-51...
Surprise, surprise, Cam Thomas would lead the Tigers in scoring with 27 points. LSU would also have three players finish the game with a double-double. Darius Days would have 13 points and grab 11 rebounds, ... Aundre Hyatt would score 13 points while battling for 10 rebounds, .... Then Trendon Watford would add 11 points while collecting 11 rebounds in the contest. Javonte Smart would score 7 points in the game.
Next up, LSU will take on the winner of #1 seed Michigan vs. #16 seed Texas Southern on Monday, March 22nd.. TBA...