It was an emotional opening night at the PMAC capped off by a tribute to fallen player Wayde Sims, but the Tigers started fast and didn’t relinquish control, defeating Southeastern 94-63.
Freshman Naz Reid and sophomore guard Tremont Waters did not disappoint with some early razzle dazzle as the two combined for 17 of the first 19 points in the first half. Reid finished with 17 to lead all LSU scorers while Waters finished with 11.
It took Southeastern four minutes to even get a point on the scoreboard with the tenacious LSU defense led by two early steals from Waters and three more deflections from freshman Ja’vonte Smart.
A 12-0 run in the middle of the first half extended the LSU lead to 29-11 with still eight minutes left in the first half. A lineup of Waters, Smart, Williams, Days and Taylor wreaked havoc on the Lions defense with their small ball approach and athleticism.
"I thought the first half, we played very well," Wade said. "I wished we had shared the ball a little bit more on offense but we did a good job defensively making sure they didn't go off."
The play of the game was a failed alley-oop attempt from Waters to Taylor where Taylor leapt over a Southeastern defender and was fouled.
Taylor said it was good to just be out on the court after not being cleared to play until Tuesday morning.
"First game I was ready to go and after sitting out a while I had a lot of energy," Taylor said. "I was trying to do my job to the best of my ability and I have to thank my guards for getting me the ball."
LSU held a 48-18 lead at the half in one of the more impressive halves to an opener a team could have. The Tigers shot 59 percent from the field and Reid finished the half with 15 points and four boards while Waters added seven with three steals.
The Tigers just needed to play in cruise control in the second half while getting some guys at the end of the bench some run. One surprising stat was that Waters didn’t record an assist until late in the second half but with Smart and Mays also bringing the ball up, Waters was playing off ball some as well.
Freshman forward Emmitt Williams also had a successful debut for the purple and gold, registering the only double double on the team with 12 points and 10 boards.
Williams said his goal for this year is to be the guy on the bench with the best reactions to big plays. When Taylor almost completed that dunk, the freshman big man was just glad he wasn't under the rim.
"I love my team, they're so amazing," Williams said. "We got Naz who's 6-foot-10 pushing the ball. When I'm on the bench I just want guys to be active with me and support my teammates."
LSU won the rebounding battle but surrendered 10 offensive boards to the much smaller Lions.
Smart struggled a little with his jump shot in the first half but was able to gain a little rhythm in the second half and played some hellacious defense, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
With the benches beginning to clear at the end of the game, Southeastern's Parker Edwards went 6-for-6 from downtown and had the LSU faithful screaming MVP as he went to the line for the final time. In seven minutes of action Edwards had 23 points, more than double any other Lion player.
After the game, the team gathered for a tribute to Sims, who was killed in a shooting in late September. With Wayne and Fay Sims in attendance, the team gathered at mid court for a tribute video that tugged at the heart strings in remembrance of Sims.