By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
The LSU Fighting Tigers tipped off their 2020-21 Basketball season with a 94-81 victory over a scrappy, well coached SIU-Edwardsville ball club (0-1), in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday night. LSU played well in the first half leading by as much as 22, but seemed to relax too much in the second half as they would find it difficult to match their opponent's intensity and energy until their talent would begin to take over late, allowing them to pull away for the win.
Below is our 'Da Boot Sports' game recap.....
The Tigers looked focused and crisp early on in the ball game. Trendon Watford would score the first points of the season as he would draw a foul taking the ball to the rim putting him at the charity stripe. He would hit 1-2, giving LSU the early 1-0 lead only 1 minute into the contest.
Cameron Thomas would score his first basket as a LSU Tiger with a nice running floater that would hit the bottom of the net at the 18:56 mark to increase the lead to 3-0.
After a Cougars layup, Darius Days would flex his muscles the next four trips down the court for LSU, as he would hit three straight three point shots in a row, followed by a layup to give LSU a 14-2 advantage five minutes into the ball game.
LSU would continue to dominate SIUE over the next four minutes as the Cougars would find it difficult to score on a tough and aggressive LSU defense. LSU would score seven points off of three turnovers in the first seven minutes of the game and would eventually open up a 22 point lead, 26-4.
With ten minutes to go, SIUE would begin to heat up from behind the three point line as they would can four straight from behind the three point arc.
The Cougars would continue to find open looks at the basketball from deep range as their ability to make three pointers would cut the LSU lead to 41-32 with 4:02 left in the 1st half.
LSU would go on a 8-2 run to end the first half, taking a 49-34 lead into the locker room.
Darius Days would lead the Tigers in scoring at the half with 14 points, while freshman Cameron Thomas would contribute 11 in his LSU debut. Watford would score 9 first half points and Javonte Smart would add 7. Bryan Peen-Johnson would also score hid first points in a LSU uniform with a powerful dunk at the eight minute mark.
The Tigers over all looked really solid in the first half except for their ability to defend the three point shot. A huge problem that haunted the squad a year ago. SIUE would go 8-16 (50%) from the arc in the first half.
LSU would go into the half shooting 15-30 from the floor for 50%, while going 6-16 from three point land, and 13-16 (81%) from the charity line.
Darius Days would score quickly for LSU to start the second half putting the Tigers up by 17, 51-34. But SIUE would respond with a burst of energetic play going on a 23-8 run over the next seven minutes as they out rebounded, out hustled, and out played the Tigers, cutting the lead to 59-57 with 12:44 to go.
With 10:10 left to go, Shareef O'Neal would score his first basket as a LSU Tiger hitting a three pointer giving the Tigers a 65-60 advantage.
The Cougars would continue to play with intensity giving LSU all they could handle, but thanks to Darius Days coming alive and scoring eight points over the next two minutes to help give the Tigers a little breathing room, 75-68 with 8:06 left on the game clock.
True freshman, Jalen Cook out of Walker High would score his first LSU basket, hitting a three from the top of the key, extending the lead to 79-68 at the 6:33 mark.
The Tigers would finally begin to find another gear as they would start to take back control of the contest, out scoring the pesky Cougars 19-13 over the final six minutes for a 94-81 win.
The young Tigers looked really good at times, especially in the first half as they started the game red hot, playing fast, physical, and at times dominating. But their second half performance resembled the same script that they followed for much of last season. The inability to play a full 40 minutes with focus and intensity on both ends of the court. They also continue to struggle defending the three point shot as Cougar players would find themselves with wide open looks from behind the three-point arc, finishing 13-27 from three-point land.
Got to give SIUE credit. They have some talent and are a very well coached team. The Cougars are now 0-2 on the season as they lost to Saint Louis, 89-52 on Wednesday.
True freshman Cameron Thomas lead the Tigers in scoring with 27 points in his impressive LSU debut. Darius Days had a great game scoring 24 on the night, carrying the Tigers on his back at times when the Cougars would begin to make a run. Trendon Watford contributed 13 points and showed great leadership on the court all game long. Both Javonte Smart, 10 points, and freshman Jalen Cook, 5 points, both did a great job of running the LSU offense from the point.
Overall the Tigers had a good night shooting, going 30-58 from the floor for 52%. 12-26 from three-point range, 46%... and had a solid night at the free throw line, 22-26 for 85%.. Defensively LSU played very well, except for defending the three.. The Tigers would have 10 steals and score 21 points off of turnovers. This young, loaded LSU team still has some work to do, but showed flashes what they are capable of and how dominate they can be when they play at the top of their game.
Next up the Tigers will face a very good Saint Louis University team on Saturday at 2pm. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and on radio: 100.7 FM......