A dominant performance on the glass and a near perfect Naz Reid were the driving forces behind an LSU 97-91 defeat of UNC-Greensboro.
Despite giving up a record-tying 19 threes by an opponent in the PMAC, coach Will Wade said the Tigers were saved by free throws and rebounding as the Tigers doubled up the Spartans on the glass.
“They’re an excellent team and were ready to play,” Wade said. “They kept chipping away and we certainly have to learn and grow from it. I don’t think the effort was lacking I just think we had some execution issues.”
LSU had no answers for Spartan guard Francis Alonso in the first four minutes, as the Spartan guard scored eight of the first 11 points for UNCG. Reid came out red hot and was the only consistent scoring option in the first half, going 3-for-3 with 11 points as LSU tried to keep up with the long range scoring of UNCG.
Reid finished with 29 points on an efficient 11-of-14 shooting from the field while adding seven boards.
“I know my teammates do a great job of getting me the ball,” Reid said. “I was just able to put it in the basket for them.”
The Spartans started in a 1-2-2 full court press off of made baskets and after starting the game shooting 69 percent from the field, they were consistently pressing throughout the game.
The Tiger defense had no answers for the 6-for-11 explosion from three point range displayed by the Spartan offense.
Junior guard Marlon Taylor and senior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams were substituted in at the 13 minute mark and made immediate contributions on the offensive glass, grabbing three on one possession alone.
LSU dominated the glass in the first half with 19 boards with six of them offensive while the Spartans had just six boards total, all on the defensive side. Rebounding was a preaching point of Wade’s heading into the contest and he was content with the effort on the boards after the game.
Trailing 27-25, the Tigers went on a 18-5 run lead primarily by one shot defensive possessions and a red hot Reid who went 5-for-6 from the field in the first half to lead all scorers with 16 points.
A perfect 13-for-13 effort at the free throw line in the first half made all the difference as the Tigers went into the break with a 49-36 lead over the Spartans.
The Spartans picked up where they left off in the first half, draining three straight triples to cut a 13 point lead to seven in less than two minutes. Luckily for LSU, Reid also picked up where he left off, scoring five early points to keep the lead at nine, 56-47.
Waters had the PMAC at its loudest when he took a stolen ball and dunked it with UNCG defender Kyrin Galloway breathing down his neck. The play ignited the crowd as LSU went up double digits and never looked back.
“My teammates were shocked that I actually did that,” Waters said. “It was a spur of the moment thing but it’s my first college dunk so I’m pretty excited about it.”
LSU went on a 10-1 run while the Spartans struggled at the free throw line trying to get back into the game, making it a 72-54 lead after a Ja’vonte Smart three pointer. Smart finished perfect from the field, scoring 13 points.
Point guard Tremont Waters took over the second half, scoring 13 of his 20 in the second and had his first double double of the season with 10 assists. Waters also had six steals on the night including a game-sealing one with 40 seconds remaining.
The Tigers were also able to stay nearly perfect at the free throw line in the second half to keep a late Spartan charge at bay, going 22-for-23 at the line for the evening.