BATON ROUGE, La. — Behind a 10-0 second half run and dazzling offensive performances from forward Aaron Epps and guard Tremont Waters, LSU pulled off its biggest and most impressive non-conference home win of 2017-18.
LSU defeated Houston 80-77 Wednesday night, improving to 6-2 on the year while knocking Houston to 8-2. Epps led the way with 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting with 16 rebounds, while Waters added 17 points and 6 assists in 39 minutes. Sophomore point guard Skylar Mays showed off his versatility as well, scoring 18 points with 9 rebounds and 2 assists.
“I’m really, really proud of our guys,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “I thought we won the game on toughness. We out-toughed them. We were really gritty down the stretch. They are one of the toughest teams in the country… It was just a total team effort. Obviously Epps led the way, but it was a total team effort.”
LSU jumped out to a hot start, opening the game on a 16-5 run where Epps had 10 points in the first 4:10 of the game. Houston steadily battled back, knocking down 8 first-half 3-pointers on the way to a 38-37 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Tigers opened up with some of its strongest defense of the season, holding Houston scoreless as the LSU offense broke out into its 10-0 run. From there, LSU benefitted from taking away Houston’s offensive possessions and lengthening its own. The Tigers forced 11 turnovers in the second half alone and scored 14 second-chance points in the period.
Waters sealed the victory with a blocked 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds remaining.
— LSU Basketball (@LSUBasketball) December 14, 2017
“I just had turned the ball over which was a heart-crushing moment and I had to brush it off,” Waters said. “Coach was just saying to get back and I knew I had to make up for it. About 10 seconds left on the clock. I knew that when [Houston’s Corey Davis Jr.] caught the ball he was going to shoot it. That was all he did all game. I had a tough time guarding him. The last play he caught it and I knew he would shoot it so I knew I just had to contest the shot and I blocked it.”
LSU dominated Houston in the paint, outscoring the Cougars 38-18. Epps was a huge factor in this. The senior posted career highs in both points and rebounds Wednesday night while fellow senior forward Duop Reath was uncharacteristically quiet, scoring 5 points with 2 rebounds.
The free-throw line was also LSU’s friend Wednesday. Though the Tigers started slow, not attempting a free throw deep into the first half, the Tigers went 17-for-20 from the stripe with Epps going 8-of-9.
What’s next for LSU basketball?
LSU returns to action Saturday afternoon for a home matchup versus Stephen F. Austin. Action is scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m. CT and will be televised nationally on the SEC Network. Internet users can find a stream of the game through WatchESPN.