Why LSU basketball finally won one of Duop Reath’s big games
SEC Country reporter Alex Hickey will answer your LSU Tigers sports queries each weekday in our LSU Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryLSU, @bigahickey or by email to Alex at email@example.com.
Question of the Day: Monday, Feb. 12
One of the more vexing conundrums of this LSU basketball season is seemingly counterintuitive. When 6-foot-11 senior big man Duop Reath has a huge offensive performance, the Tigers struggle to win.
LSU went into its game Saturday with a 2-3 record in games in which Reath scored at least 20 points. But there was no team-wide struggle in Reath’s big game against Ole Miss. The Tigers rolled to an 82-66 win behind Reath’s 26 points.
For this question of the day, we decided to go directly to LSU basketball coach Will Wade for the answer.
What was so different about Duop’s high-scoring effort against Ole Miss compared to some of his previous ones?
“It’s efficiency,” Wade said. “We can’t be feeding him 18-20 times to get those points. The numbers don’t add up when we’re shooting 20 2-pointers with him in there. The perfect number for him is 10-14 shots a game.”
Sure enough, Reath hit his “perfect number” against the Rebels. He was 9-for-11 from 2-point range while nailing his only 3-point attempt.
Compare that to his season-high 31 points against Vanderbilt. Reath was 13 of 20 from the field in that 77-71 loss to the Commodores. Since Reath is the team’s top rebounder, his misses tend to hurt the Tigers more since the other team is more likely to grab boards when he isn’t one of the guys boxing out.
Another key for Reath against Ole Miss was getting to the free-throw line. According to Wade, Reath had only drawn four fouls on 111 shots at the rim in SEC play going into the Ole Miss game. That’s a stunning number, but Reath got to the line and made 5 of his 6 foul shots against the Rebels.
When asked whether that had more to do with teaching Reath better technique or having a pregame discussion that made referees aware of that statistic, Wade smiled coyly.
“We’ll go with technique. I do a poor job teaching technique,” Wade said. “[And] I’d prefer not to get fined. I was just pointing out a statistical fact. I only speak in statistical facts.”
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