LSU head coach Will Wade
Chris Parent (@chrisparent)

Basketball Advances Past ULL in NIT, 84-76

Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE – LSU’s basketball program took another step forward under first year Coach Will Wade with an 84-76 win over the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers, now 18-14, advance to a second round game against No. 2-seed Utah in Salt Lake City. The game will be played Monday, March 19, at 8 p.m. CT (7 p.m. local) on ESPNU.

Louisiana-Lafayette finishes its Sun Belt regular season championship campaign at 27-7.

Duop Reath had a huge game for the Tigers with 26 points and 11 rebounds to go with four blocks and two steals in 31 minutes. The senior hit 10-of-14 field goals, including two treys and all four free throws. Brandon Sampson had 18 points, hitting 5-of-9 field goals, one trey from the expanded arc and 7-of-9 charity tosses. Skylar Mays came off the bench to hit 5-of-10 field goals, including a three for 11 points.

For the game, LSU shot 52.7 percent, the 12th time the Tigers have shot better than 50 percent this season and the 13th consecutive game dating back to last year that the Tigers have shot 50 percent and won. LSU was 4-of-18 from the three-point range and 22-of-30 at the line, including 12-of-17 at the stripe in the final quarter.

UL-Lafayette was 27-of-74 for 36.5 percent, 7-of-28 from the arc and 15-19 at the free throw line. The Cajuns were led by Frank Bartley with five treys and 21 points, while Johnathan Stove had 17, Marcus Stroman 12 and Cedric Russell 10.

LSU had a 46-28 advantage in points in the paint and 19-15 in points off turnovers. UL-Lafayette, which out rebounded the Tigers, 40-35 and 21-9 on the offensive boards, had a 20-8 advantage in second chance points.

Tremont Waters, still wearing the mask for his broken nose, only took four shots, making three but still had seven assists and nine points.

UL-Lafayette got off to a great start in the game played with experimental 10-minute quarter rules. Bartley hit a three and Stove hit back-to-back layups to give the Cajuns a 7-0 advantage with 8:04 left in the opening quarter as Coach Wade took a timeout.

Reath got LSU going with a jumper out of the timeout before Barley hit a three to give the Cajuns its biggest lead of the night, 10-2, at the 7:07 mark.

From there, Aaron Epps had a dunk, Reath a jump shot, and, a layup, turnover, steal and dunk all by Mays to give LSU a tie for 10-10. After an LSU turnover and a missed three by UL-Lafayette, Tremont Waters scored to make it 12-10 and the run of 12 points ended with another Mays dunk at the 1:35 mark to put LSU up 14-10.

The Tigers led by 18-15 at the end of the first 10 minutes.

In the second quarter, the Tigers continued to hold the lead and advanced it to nine points at 30-21 with 4:29 to go in the first half. The lead went to 10 for the Tigers when Sampson had a layin off a turnover that gave LSU a 33-23 advantage and when Reath his first of his three-pointers, LSU had the crowd of 6,846 excited up 40-28 at the break.

In the third quarter, after LSU opened with a layup to make the margin, 42-28, the Cajuns began to connect cutting the game to three three different times before LSU was able to get out of the third 10 minutes up, 61-53.

LSU in the final period went toe-for-toe with the Cajuns, trying to match their buckets and trying to pad the lead at the free throw line. But UL-Lafayette made one final move with LSU up five, 73-68, with 2:44 left. Bartley had a jumper to make it 73-70 and then after a succession blocks, turnovers and steals on both ends, Stroman got an offensive rebound put back to make it 73-72 with 1:39 to go.

From there Waters made two free throws, the Cajuns turned the ball over and Daryl Edwards made one three to make it 76-72 with 1:02 to go. The Cajuns missed a three-pointer and Duop Reath made it 78-72 which was enough points for the Tigers who made free throws for the final margin.

National Invitation Tournament First Round
LSU Basketball vs. UL-Lafayette
March 14, 2018

Opening statement …
“Obviously, it was a good win. It’s good to advance. I thought the difference was in the paint. We dominated in the paint. Duop (Reath) was phenomenal with 26 (points) and 11 (rebounds). Skylar (Mays) really changed the game when Tre (Tremont Waters) got in foul trouble in the first half. I thought he really changed the course of the game when he came in with his dunks and attacking the rim. I am proud of our guys. It was a good win. It was good to advance. We are about action not talk here.”

On the pregame talk from UL-Lafayette …
“It is what it is. I take exception when people take shots at your program. Our guys take exception to that. To be honest, before Sunday, ULL wasn’t even a thought in my mind. I had no idea what they were doing, but after the last couple of days, it’s been something else. I’ve never seen anything like it. I was glad that we were able to win for our fans because I can only imagine having to listen to all of that stuff. It’s a win over a team. We are moving forward in the NIT, and we’ve come a long way. We’ve made some progress. I think it was a good win. I was proud of our guys. I thought we made some good plays. I thought (Brandon) Sampson made some good plays. I thought Duop (Reath) played really well. Our guys responded to their challenges leading up to the game.”

On what ULL said prior to tonight’s contest …
“Have you been under a rock? Specific talking about how they should be playing at home. Listen. Do you think they should have been playing at home? Let me explain this to you. There’s this thing called the NCAA nitty gritty sheet. Their RPI is higher than ours. They also played the 213th strength of schedule; we had the 54th-ranked strength of schedule. You say, ‘Oh, well we play in the SEC. The SEC stacks that up.’ We had the 122nd strength of schedule out of conference; they had the 172nd strength of schedule out of conference. Alright? We have nine quadrant one-and-two wins. They have one. Twenty-four of their 25 wins were against quadrants three and four, including an 18-point loss in Ole Miss who came in last place in our league. I know they like to talk about their 27 wins and their RPI, but the RPI does not factor in. They’re big on beating all of the Louisiana schools. Unfortunately for the RPI, you cannot count your wins against Louisiana College and Xavier New Orleans. It’s not the way it works. They have a better RPI, yes, but you have to look at the sheet. If you look at the teams that got into the NCAA tournament, it’s the teams that beat other tournament teams. We went 7-7 against NCAA tournament teams. I was surprised it wasn’t a two-seven game instead of a three-six game. I was a little disappointed and thought it would be a two-seven type matchup instead of a three-six-type matchup. They take shots at that. They take shots at our gym. By the way, we have an arena, not a gym. They take shots at our arena and all of that sort of stuff. That’s just not right. We aren’t scared of anybody. We are not scared of anybody. Point blank. Period. My guys aren’t scared of anybody … The SEC has a rule that you have to play teams with a three-year rolling RPI. Who in here knows what ULL’s three-year rolling RPI is? 138. I’ll save you the research. It was 138 going into this year. We have a home-and-home series scheduled with Houston who was 127, better than ULL. We have home and homes scheduled with Memphis, 114, better than ULL. We have a home and home series coming up with VCU, 25, better than ULL. To talk about us being scared to start home-and-home series and playing against people is crazy. It’s crazy. We schedule better teams than them based on the SEC scheduling formula. The one thing that I do agree he said was that he needs to run his program and I need to run my program, and we will do what sees fit.”

On a what a postseason win means for LSU …
“It’s good. It’s progress. We didn’t have a great year last year. We have come a long way in a short amount of time. It was good win and good to play in a real competitive environment and that sort of thing.”

On the final timeout …
“Well, since they don’t get to play us very often, I thought they should sit there and enjoy the opportunity to play us.”

On if the emotions at the end of the game were unfortunate for college basketball …
“It was an emotionally-charged environment. You’ll have to ask them. They’re the ones who started all of that stuff.”

On if he said anything directed toward ULL during the timeout …
“I think I did. I can’t remember what I said though.”

On if ULL head coach Bob Marlin charged toward him …
“I didn’t see that.”

On Skylar Mays’ play off of the bench …
“We did play basketball tonight. Skylar (Mays), just so y’all know, he’s got a broken bone in his hand. We are banged up now. We have Tre (Tremont Waters) with the broken nose, Sky with that, Duop (Reath) and (Aaron) Epps both have feet issues. It was really just because he hasn’t been able to practice the last couple of days. We were trying to put a little toughness out there to start the game, not that Sky’s not tough. We thought we could bring him off of the bench as a little bit of a change of pace.”

On Brandon Rachal’s absence from playing tonight …
“It was just a suspension, I guess you could term it.”

On how ULL got back into the ballgame …
“They’re a good team. That’s the thing. They’re a very good team. They’ve got good players. (Frank) Bartley is a great shooter. (Johnathan) Stove does a great job getting in the paint. They made shots. I thought (Cedric) Russell made some shots in the first half. At one point, Bartley had like 19 of their 35 points, something like that. I thought it was them making some good plays. They’re a tough bunch. You don’t win 25 regular season games if you’re not a good team. They’re a good team. They’re a tough bunch. They were going to counter-punch. Luckily, I don’t think we ever lost the lead, which was positive. We are excited to advance. I was proud of how our guys played. We gave up too many offensive rebounds. Other than that, I thought we played pretty well.”


G Skylar Mays

On his feeling of playing well …
“We started off slow, so I just came in and tried to build energy. I was able to get a breakaway dunk and I felt that brought something to this team and we were able to get going from there.”

On Duop Reath’s performance …
“He was awesome. He is very talented on the offensive end and very hard to stop. He pretty much got whatever he wanted today, so we just kept trying to feed him. He definitely produced.”

On the feeling of playing basketball in March after last season …
“It is a big turnaround. It is definitely a time that you want to be playing. For myself, I want to play some more games with these seniors. I am just cherishing the moment.”

F Duop Reath

On if they were fired up pregame …
“Definitely. Like Coach (Will Wade) said, we are about action. We are not about talking so we just had to come here and handle business.”

On the build-up to the game and playing a game like that …
“We just wanted to play well for our fans. We appreciate them coming out today. We play for each other. At the end of the day, we just wanted to win.”

On dominating the paint …
“We are taller than them. They might weigh more than us, but we have more length over them. All we had to do was try to play simple and finish through them.”


Opening statement …
“We were excited to play in the NIT. It’s a prestigious tournament that has a great history. We’re honored to play in it. We’re glad we didn’t have to travel far, although we would have liked to play at home. In the first half, I didn’t think we played great but we got off to a quick start and had some turnovers. We talked at halftime and the guys really came out and fought in the second half. We came out and felt like we did what we needed to do to have a chance to win the game. We got to within one in the second half with 1:19 remaining and then we put them at the free-throw line. We weren’t able to close it out, but it was an intense game and that’s the way it should be.”

On if he would change anything about his press conference leading up to the game …
“What did I say? I said we should have been seeded higher and I believe that. I stand up for what I said before and we wanted a home game. We won 27 games this year; it took them two years to win 27 games. We’ve had the highest RPI in the state the last two years. But this year is what’s important; we had a heck of a team. Our RPI was 30 points higher and that’s on the NIT. If we had played this game in Lafayette, it would have been a little bit different in my opinion. I backed up what I said; I stood up for my team, our program and the university. We should’ve been a higher seed and I still say that.”

On Will Wade’s comment about not being afraid to play anybody …
“I have no comment about what he said. I don’t really care. He can run his program and I’m going to run mine. I’m going to try to do it with class.”

On how his team got back into the game in the second half …
“We fought. I thought we played harder than they did in the second half. Frank (Bartley) did a great job on (Tremont) Waters. Waters is a really good player and we limited his shots. (Duop) Reath played really well for them. He’s a good player. He had four points against Mississippi State in their last game in the SEC Tournament and then he comes out and gets 26. He hurt us in the second half, but I think we played harder. I thought Marcus (Stroman) played his rear end off. He got 13 rebounds which led the game, that’s pretty good for a point guard.”


On how they were able to get back in the game in the second-half…
“Well we just played hard. We came out with the intensity that we needed to at the beginning of the game, but towards the end of the first-half we let it get away from us. We know we wanted to win this game, and we all knew what we needed to do to get back in the game.”

On what the environment was like…
“It was honestly a great atmosphere. I mean it’s college basketball, that’s what you want. You want it to be competitive, and I think we did that. We finally got to play at home, and it’s something we really wanted to do. To finally get the chance to do that was amazing.”


On what his hometown-state environment was like…
“It was an amazing feeling. If I had to go out, I’d rather do it in front of all my family and friends. I had a lot of people out here that came and supported us. It was a great environment to play in, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”


On how they were able to be effective getting to the basket…
“(Duop) Reath is a good player. He posted deep and hit some tough shots. I thought he hit about four tough shots going over his right shoulder shooting with his right hand. He’s big, physical, and once he got it going, he kind of dominated in the paint. He did get some calls though. I believe that me and JaKeenan (Gant) did the same moves he did and didn’t’ get the same calls.”

On if the wider lanes effected what he was able to do inside…
“No, but I felt that since the lanes were extended, the refs missed a lot of three-second calls. With the lines being white, it was kind of hard to see, and they were definitely camping in the lane all game. That’s basically what me and the refs were talking about all game, and there should have been a lot more turnovers for Reath and (Aaron) Epps. It’s a new rule. Refs won’t get every call right, but personally, I was trying to tell them that they were camping in the lane.”



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