Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: Will Wade's Tigers returned home after a successful road trip, winning the Emerald Classic in Florida to host the Ohio Bobcats in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Wednesday night.
LSU improved to 8-0 on the season as they defeated a well coached, hard playing Ohio squad, 66-51 in front of 11,328 excited fans. It was also the largest student crowd of the season with 2,278 in attendance.
The Tigers started fast, taking a 14-2 lead eight minutes into the game and led by as much as 18 points before Ohio would battle back late in the first half and early in the second to tie the contest at 37-37. From that point, LSU finally began to pull away from the pesky Bobcats for the victory.
Tai Eason would come off the bench to help ignite the Tigers in the second half, leading the team with 20 points on the night, while Darius Days finished with his second double-double of the year, the 18th of his career, scoring 12 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Mwani Wilkinson and Efton Reid both finished with 8 points each, while Eric Gaines contributed 7 points.
All season long the Tigers have started slow before picking up steam to pull away from their opponents, but on Wednesday night LSU started fast with hot shooting and suffocating defense.
LSU controlled the opening tip and scored quickly on a jumper from inside the paint by Efton Reid. Reid's basket would start a 14-0 run over the first eight minutes of the contest, as Ohio struggled offensively against a tough LSU man to man defense.
The Bobcats would finally get on the board at the 11:24 mark when Jason Carter scored on a second chance layup, cutting the Tigers lead to 14-2.
The Tigers continued their aggressive first half play as they would go on a 7-1 run over the next three minutes to take a
18 point lead, 21-3 with 9:25 to go in the half.
Ohio refused to fold early and began to chip away at the LSU lead. Trailing 29-11 with 5:05 left on the clock, the Bobcats heated up from behind the three point arc, as they would hit three straight to go on a quick 9-0 run, cutting LSU's lead to 29-20. LSU responded with a nice 5-2 run to finish off the first half to take a 34-22 lead at the break.
The second half would begin with Ohio playing with much more energy and remaining hot as a pistol from behind the three
point arc. The Bobcats, who trailed by 18 points at one point in the contest, battled back over the first six minutes of the second half to tie the game at 37-37. LSU found themselves outscored 15-3 at the 14:07 mark, as both teams hit nothing but three pointers so far in the half. What looked like a potential LSU blowout in the first half, had now became a new ball game.
Over the next six minutes both teams struggled with sloppy offensive play, but LSU managed to outscore Ohio 10-2 to build a 47-39 advantage with 8:38 left in the game.
With five minutes left in the contest, Efton Reid would battle to score on back to back trips down the floor to put LSU up 53-44, before Tari Eason would add a basket, and a free throw after being fouled. Eason found himself at the charity strip again on the next possession, hitting both shots to extend the Tigers lead to 58-44 with 3:29 left.
The Tigers began to pull away with under two minutes remaining as Ohio once again would fall victim to LSU's tenacious defense.
“Tremendous crowd, I thought the students were awesome. I think we set the student record tonight for the year, we had almost 2,500, 2,300 or so." Wade said. "We had over 11,000 here. I thought the crowd was great. We got off to a good start. I thought the first ten minutes we were the aggressor, played really hard. I thought the second ten minutes of the first half we were kind of on our heels, to start the second half we were on our heels. Then, we were able to turn it and certainly close the game out. I thought our defense was really solid, I thought we did a nice job defensively. We’ve got a lot of work to do on offense.”
The Tigers will take a short Holiday break to study for and take exams before returning to play on Dec. 11th against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi