BATON ROUGE, La. — Rust was sometimes evident in LSU’s first basketball game in 12 days, but the Tigers prevailed 97-84 over defending Colonial Athletic Association champ UNC Wilmington in their first game since Nov. 29.
“It was a good win,” said LSU coach Will Wade. “Funky things happen coming out of exams. We took care of business.”
Center Duop Reath led the way with a career-high 30 points off the bench. LSU started a smaller lineup, pairing forwards Aaron Epps and Wayde Sims with a trio of guards. Reath subbed in 1:55 into the game and became difficult to remove from the floor thereafter, hitting 13 of 17 field goals.
“When they go 1-on-1 with me, it’s going to be a long night for them,” Reath said. “That’s what they’ve been doing to defend the post every game. So coach told me ‘It’s going through you tonight.'”
LSU outscored UNCW 48-18 in the paint.
Freshman point guard Tremont Waters continued the impressive start to his young career, nearly recording a triple-double. Waters had 20 points to go with 10 assists and a career-high 9 rebounds.
When asked why he didn’t miss a layup so he could get a cheap rebound for the triple-double, Waters cracked, “That would lower my shooting percentage.”
On a more serious note, Waters was bothered by his 7 turnovers. Though 2 of them were offensive fouls, he didn’t believe LSU’s layoff between games was a valid excuse.
“I don’t want to fall back on that,” Waters said. “I’ve been playing basketball all my life. I should be able to manage the game and protect the ball. That’s all on me.”
After UNC Wilmington rallied to make the Tigers (5-2) start to sweat midway through the second half, guard Daryl Edwards drilled a 4-point play to effectively put an end to the their hopes.
LSU was up 73-65 when Edwards hit a 3-pointer while getting fouled with 7:38 left to play. He hit the free throw, and the Seahawks (2-5) never again got within single digits. Edwards finished the game 2 for 2 from the field with 7 points.
“The 4-point play was huge,” Wade said. “The next possession, he made a cross-court pass to Skylar Mays for an open 3 and he did a good job guarding [UNCW leading scorer] Jordon Talley during that time. I’m real proud of Daryl.”
Top Seahawk sits out first half
UNC Wilmington was without its top player, power forward Devontae Cacok, for the entire first half. Cacok, who dropped 35 points in the Seahawks’ last game at East Carolina, sat out the first 20 minutes before re-entering the lineup to start the second half. He finished with 10 points.
Wade picked up his first technical foul at LSU when he argued a charging call against Waters with 4:25 left in the first half.
“I would say I earned that one,” Wade said after the game.
The Tigers responded, though, extending their lead from 8 points when Wade was T’d up to 16 going into the locker room.
“I thought our guys did a good job picking it up,” Wade said. “That shows we’ve got a connected team; a team that cares. I’m proud of those guys.”
LSU-UNCW box score
What’s next for LSU basketball?
The Tigers host the Houston Cougars on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.