BATON ROUGE, La. — Behind a breakout performance from freshman guard Tremont Waters, the Will Wade era for the LSU basketball team is off to a hot start.
LSU basketball throttled Alcorn State in its season opener Friday night, winning 99-59. Waters shined, scoring 27 points on 9 of 13 shooting with 6 assists and 5 rebounds in his college debut. Junior Brandon Sampson showed his talent as well, scoring 10 points (4-of-4 shooting) with 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
Waters’ and Sampson’s strong performances look even better in context. The pair’s respective +/- scores, which counts how many points your team outscored your opponents by with you on the court, were +37 and +36. Meaning when Waters or Sampson weren’t on the court, the score was virtually tied.
“Yeah, it was a lot of fun,” Waters said. “We came out and we started off 9-0. From there we just kept improving and bumping the lead up. The crowd got into it and it was just a great time.”
But you can’t give credit exclusively to the offensive standouts. After an offseason where defense was the main focus, holding Alcorn State to 59 points is no small feat. Last season, the Tigers never held an opponent to fewer than 60 points and only held six to fewer than 70. Alcorn State shot 39 percent from the field, compared to LSU’s 61 percent and 58 percent from 3-point range.
“We should’ve been better, man,” Wade said of his team’s defense. “We put some of those guys in around the last 10 minutes. They should’ve scored around 50. But I thought our intensity was good. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got a lot of stuff we can correct. But I thought our intensity was good and our guys did a good job. They made some good adjustments based on what they were doing.”
LSU bested Alcorn in virtually every statistical category. The notable differences came in assists and steals. The Tigers out-stole Alcorn 12-4 and out-assisted the Braves 18-7 LSU also won the turnover battle, losing the ball seven times compared to Alcorn State’s 16.
What’s next for LSU basketball?
The Tigers return to the court Thursday for a matchup against Samford at 7 p.m. CT from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The game will be streamed live on WatchESPN and a radio feed will be available through the LSU Sports Radio Network. Check back to SEC Country throughout the week for more updates about Will Wade, Tremont Waters and the upward rise of the 2017-18 LSU basketball team.