Wade Gets 100th Career Win; LSU Beats Memphis, 71-61
Communications Sr. Associate
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The LSU men’s basketball team used a strong four-plus minute period early in the second half to break open a tight game and then kept the host Memphis Tigers at bay to score a solid, 71-61, victory Thursday night here at the Fed Ex Forum in LSU’s first true road game of the season.
The win puts LSU at 9-3 entering Southeastern Conference play on Wednesday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against Kentucky. That game is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network and broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. Kentucky will have a non-conference game with Louisville on Friday and its conference opener at home against Georgia on Sunday before coming to Baton Rouge for the Wednesday contest.
The Tigers will take Friday off before returning to practice over the weekend to begin preps for the Wildcats.
Memphis, playing before its largest crowd of the season at the Forum of 9,468, fell to 9-4 entering American Athletic Conference play at Cincinnati on Sunday.
The win was the 100th career win for first-year LSU head coach Will Wade who entered the season with 91 wins after two years as head coach at Chattanooga and two years as head coach at VCU. The Tigers have won three straight games and the win came in the team’s first try to get No. 100 for Coach Wade.
LSU’s starting tandem of point guards – freshman Tremont Waters and sophomore Skylar Mays – combined for 32 points and 12 assists on the game as they went back-and-forth contributing to the LSU offensive output. They both also contributed on the defensive end with officially the pair being credited with five combined steals.
Waters, who already has had three double digit assist games, flirted with double figures again with eight assists with some others unable to be completed because of foul calls. Waters made 6-of-12 field goals, including three treys to go with 3-of-5 free throw shooting to finish with 18 points and four steals in 38 minutes.
Mays found his touch again from the arc, hitting 4-of-7 attempts to finish with 14 points, four assists and one steal in 30 minutes.
Brandon Sampson came off the bench for his second game back, playing 25 minutes. He hit three treys and four-of-seven from the field for 12 points.
LSU, which entered the game second in the nation in field goal shooting inside the arc, made its mark this time as well at the three-point arc, hitting 13-of-26 trey attempts for 50 percent. That more than made up for LSU’s struggles for the second time in three games at the stripe, making just 8-of-16, including just 5-of-12 in the second half. For the game, LSU was 25-of-54 from the field for 46.3% overall.
The Tigers turned the ball over 13 turns and forced 16 turnovers, but LSU had a 22-12 advantage in points off turnovers. Memphis had the advantage in the paint, 34-24.
Kyvon Davenport led Memphis with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Jeremiah Martin had 13 points, six assists and three steals.
The teams played an entertaining first half in which Memphis had slight control of as but teams were able to make plays at the goal.
LSU had to make plays to tie the first half at 3, 5, 8 and 10 before Memphis moved out to a 15-10 advantage on five straight points. LSU would eventually tie the game at 19-19 for the game’s fifth tie on a Waters trey and then the teams traded first buckets and then free throws to tie the game at 21 and 23.
The Tigers of Memphis had their crowd roaring approval after building a seven-point advantage at 33-26 with 5:07 to go in the opening half a Memphis went on a 10-3 run. But Lsu would score the next eight points on a layup by Duop Reath, a three-pointer by Darryl Edwards and a three from up top by Aaron Epps that gave LSU its first lead of the game at 2:44 left in the first 20 minutes.
Memphis would get a free throw to tie the game and after a layup by Wayde Sims, Memphis got a bucket at the halftime buzzer to leave things tied for the ninth time at 36-36.
The first three minutes of the second half continued in the same vein as Memphis got two three point leads, but the game turned after a Davenport three with 16:44 left that gave Memphis a 43-40 advantage.
Memphis would go scoreless over the next 4:27 as Mays hit two free throws and back-to-back three pointers. Sampson would put a layup in and Waters would get a fast break layup off a Sims steal to make the LSU lead 52-43 before Memphis would score again on a layup at the 12:17 mark.
The LSU Tigers were in control at that point and getting stops on one end and, despite the free throw difficulties, enough good offensive possessions to keep Memphis from feeling like they could come all the way back. Memphis got to within six, 59-53, at the 8:58 mark, but LSU pushed the lead back to 11, 65-54, at the 6:23 mark on a Reath layup.
The home team made one final run to cut it to seven with 4:56 left, but a tip-in by Sims of his own miss and a three by Sampson at the 3:32 mark pushed the game back to 11 and LSU fans in the building were ready to celebrate the end of a nine-game road arena losing streak.
While LSU was shooting 50 percent overall in the second half (12-24) and 6-12 from the arc, Memphis was held to just 8-of-28 shooting or 28.6 percent and a dismal 1-of-13 from the arc in the second half (7.7%).
Reath and Epps each had six rebounds and Epps had three blocks before fouling out after 20 minutes. LSU was outrebounded by four, 37-33, and 15-10 on the offensive boards. Sims was LSU’s leading rebounder with seven, four offensive. He scored eight points in 27 minutes off the bench.
Tickets for the LSU-Kentucky game, LSU’s next contest, remain on sale online at LSUtix.net. The ticket office will reopen at 1 p.m. on Jan. 2 for in-person sales and will be open all day on game day.
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LSU Head Coach Will Wade
“It was a good road win. We guarded a little better. Our zone was pretty good. We did a good job taking away the high post and forcing them to go to the corner. That was key because they are very good at getting the ball to the high post. We shot the ball well. I thought (Tremont) Waters was in control of the game, which was critical for us. We could have milked it at the foul line. We missed three front ends of 1-and-1s. We’ve been a really good free throw shooting team, but for whatever reason we couldn’t knock them in tonight. I thought the difference in the game was in the second half. We were getting pounded in the first half. In the second half, we did a better job of evening it out on the glass. We only gave them five or seven points in the second half, which they had 12, I think, in the first half. We were able to even out those stats that ultimately did it for us. We have to get better at salting away wins when we have a lead, but, hey, a lot of our guys haven’t won a lot of road games, so this was a good start. It was a good crowd in here, so it was a good way to get started. I’m proud of our effort.”
On transitioning to a zone defense before halftime…
“We were fortunate to be tied at halftime. Coach (Tubby) Smith is such a good coach and they are really good coming out of timeouts. We were going to go man-to-man and go to zone on timeouts, but we basically just flipped it. We played zone most of the time on makes and sometimes on misses when we could get back, and then we went man on timeouts to change it up. Kyvon Davenport, a lot of his makes come in the middle channel, except for one between the two x’s. A lot of the threes he missed came on the wing and corners, which is not where he has shot them from all year. I think 16 of his 17 makes were in the middle. We did a good job of at least making him shoot it where he wasn’t comfortable shooting it. Our guys were locked in. It was a good road win. We will continue to get better and continue to improve.”
On second-half sparks from Skylar Mays and Brandon Sampson…
“I thought Mays got us going to start the second half. We run some intricate stuff with handoffs and stuff, but at halftime we just said ‘let’s scrap that.’ All we do is try to get the ball back to Tremont anyway so he can go make a play. We said let’s forget that and keep the ball in his hands so he can go make plays. Skylar was the beneficiary of that and he was able to get us going. He hit two big threes that got us going. Sampson played a really good floor game down the stretch. He grabbed a couple big rebounds down there and we had a couple big offensive rebounds down here. I thought everybody that played contributed. I thought Sampson did some really nice things down the stretch for us.”
On returning home to open conference play…
“We know we will have a good crowd. I thought there was a good crowd here tonight. There were a lot of LSU people here tonight. We appreciate everybody’s support. Our kids our playing hard. They want to win so bad. They wanted to win this road game so bad. They are sick of hearing me talk about ‘we need to start winning on the road.’ But our guys played hard. That’s all we can ask. We need to go back and clean some things up these next couple of days and get ready for the juggernaut that is Kentucky. It’s what we signed up for. If you don’t like this, go play intramurals. It’s what we signed up for. We play in the SEC and it’s time to rock and roll.”
Memphis Head Coach Tubby Smith
On the better first half for Memphis…
“Yeah, we got it backwards today. We should have played badly in the first half and better in the second. We were worse in the second half, having nine turnovers after having seven in the first. Just real disappointed in the way we performed. We weren’t communicating, and we couldn’t make a shot. When you go 1-13 from three and 8-28 with nine turnovers, you’re not going to win.”
On LSU hitting threes…
“That’s one of the things we wanted to take away, and obviously, we didn’t. That was a disappointing part of it, we worked on it and worked on it. I guess we just don’t get it, we have a tough time doing it. And guys just aren’t contesting, and then they say they did, well, no son, you didn’t jump, and they’ll see that.”
On LSU guard Tremont Waters…
“He had a good night, he played 38 minutes. He was very effective. It was hard to contain him. He had eight assists, he just knows how to penetrate. He’s quick as lightning. I thought we did a fairly good job of guarding him in the first half, but in the second half, we didn’t come up when we were supposed to come up and double him or trap him like we were supposed to. You’ve got to try to take the ball out of his hands, and I didn’t think we did a good job of that.”
“Well, you throw a skip pass over somebody’s head, drive baseline and lose it, it’s really disappointing, because we’ve worked really hard on these things. We played one of the better teams we’ve played thus far, other than Louisville, and we just didn’t perform well. Even though we were home, and had a great crowd, best crowd we’ve had, and they watched us do stupid things. It was unbelievable, we’d just throw the ball away. Jimario (Rivers) was back for the first time, we didn’t seem like we were flowing very well. When we did get it inside. We were pretty effective. In the paint, we had 34 points. That’s our game. We have to get it inside. When we’re not making shots, we’re just not going to win.”
On Kyvon Davenport…
“He was pretty effective. We’d like him to be more assertive defensively, but he does some good things for us.”
On playing Cincinnati…
“That’ll be a tall task. Expect us to recover and be ready to play. I thought we were ready to play today, and we were. Like you said, it was our best first half of the year. But again, the second half, pressure or whatever you want to call it, I don’t know that their athleticism made that much of a difference. They did have eight steals and six blocks, so they were pretty athletic at the rim. But we had some nice blocks, and were pretty challenging. You take out the shooting part, I think we played them pretty well.”