By: Jordan Taylor
Da Boot Sports!
After a long 12 days off due to COVID-19 protocol we finally get to see Will Wade's basketball team hit the court again.
The Tigers will be without a key starter in today's 1pm tip off against Nicholls as Javonte Smart will not dress out, (reason unknown).
Coach Will Wade will go with a different looking starting five today as Eric Gaines would get the start filling in for Smart, joining Cameron Thomas, Mwani Wilkinson, Darius Days, and Trendon Watford.
With COVID playing a major factor in college sports this year, LSU ended up being the next team to be affected as they were forced to cancel their last four games with three of those four home games.
Also noted, Will Wade and other coaching staff members have completed their quarantine and are back full staff for today's mid day contest with the Colonels.
LSU came into the contest 4-1, with Nicholls sitting at 2-3.
Below is our "Da Boot Sports" game breakdown
Both teams came out blazing to start the game with a fast scoring pace as the Colonels would control the opening tip. It wouldn't take long for the scoring to get going as Jeremiah Buford would drain a three for our first points of the evening. LSU would answer in a hurry with talented freshman Cameron Thomas scoring a basket.
Would rust and fatigue play a factor for LSU early? Will Wade would answer that question playing ten guys in the first half to keep everyone fresh and rested.
Nicholls did some good things in the first half especially with their ball movement and draining the shock clock all the way down before taking their shots. The Colonels would give LSU all they could handle and more playing with energy and intensity before the Tigers would eventually settle down and begin to pull away with a double digit lead, 25-14 at the 13:10 mark.
The pesky Colonels would again begin to give the Tigers fits as they would go on a 10-5 run over the final 3:49 of the half to pull to within five at the break, 44-39.
Nicholls would surprisingly out rebounded the Tigers in the first half. LSU also had a really pour shooting effort from behind the three point line. Some positives in the first half include, LSU shooting 52% from the field as well as a solid effort from the free throw line. LSU's largest lead of the first half was 11.
Trendon Watford led LSU in scoring and rebounds in the first half with 15 points and 4 rebounds. Cook, Leblanc, & Manning saw several quality minutes off the bench for the Tigers.
The start of the second half strong as they would race back out to a 11 point lead, 53-42, three minutes in. Trendon Watford's presence in the paint would overwhelm the Colonels at times, but a well coached Nicholls team would continue to play with a lot of fight keeping the game close while shoot extremely well as they would slowly chip away at the Tigers lead.
LSU ended up playing a sloppy second half as they would get out rebounded, and torched in the paint, finding their lead sitting at only 68-65 at the 10:13 mark.
Nicholls would ramp up the defensive pressure around the 7 minute mark but LSU would never let go of the lead and twice during the final four minute stretch would have a 10 point lead.
The Colonels refused to be intimidated by the more talented Tigers as they would continue to out hustle LSU. In the final few minutes Coach Wade would use Shareef O'Neil on the defensive side and Thomas on the offensive side in key moments down the stretch. The Tigers would have to rely on free throws and a strong defensive effort after not making a field goal in the final 4:33.
With 1:01 remaining in the game, Nicholls would score five points on two straight, quick possessions cutting LSU's lead to 85-80 with :42 ticks left. Jalen Cook would add a free throw and Mwani Wilkinson would grab a steal to end the contest with a final score of 86-80.
Cameron Thomas had a career night with an outstanding 2nd half, leading the team in scoring with 29 points. Without Javonte Smart, LSU wouldn't blink on the offensive side of the ball as three Tigers combined for 66 points between Thomas (29 pts.), Watford (22 pts.), and Days (15 pts.).. Trendon Watford would fall one rebound shy of a double double with another big night in his return.
LSU would shoot 55% from the field and continue to shoot well from the free throw line going 20-28. Today's win marks the 6th straight game in which the Tigers score 80+ in a game.
The Tigers are now 5-1 on the season and need to shift gears towards SEC play.
Next up for the Tigers will be a date with the Texas A&M Aggies to open up SEC play on Tuesday Dec 29th in Baton Rouge. To watch the game live it will be on the SEC Network or you can listen on 98.1 FM.
Photos By: Grant Jarreau