“I had no idea we could play like this” | Balanced LSU routs Arkansas on the road, 75-54

By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor

Facing the toughest road test of his tenure, Will Wade had one request for his team.

“I told them, ‘Let’s have it within two possessions in the last eight minutes,'” Wade told the SEC Network after the game.

They didn’t listen.

LSU wasn’t within two possessions in the last eight minutes. Instead, they led Arkansas by 21 with eight minutes to go, a margin that would hold until the final buzzer in a 75-54 win, the largest win in Fayetteville in program history.

“I had no idea we could play like this,” said Wade.

Aaron Epps picked up his third career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Tremont Waters dished out eight assists. LSU (11-4, 2-1 SEC) held Arkansas more than 30 points below its season average in what Wade called “as well as we could play at this point.”

“That’s as well as we’ve executed all year,” Wade said. “We were totally on point with our game plan. We took good shots, and we didn’t turn it over. We valued the ball.”

LSU led 41-21 at the half and by as much as 24 on a pair of Mays free throws that made it 36-14. The Tigers outshot the Razorbacks 55.6 percent to 18.2 percent, led by 10 points from Mays on perfect shooting from the field (3-for-3) and free throw line (2-for-2). Waters also dished out five assists, with six points and four boards.

“We just tell him: ‘Spray it to the open guys.’ We had open guys,” Wade said. “He had a bunch of hockey assists.”

An Anton Beard layup pulled Arkansas within 7-5 early, but the Tigers rolled off a 29-7 run, started by Mays’ first three and capped off by his freebies. With Aaron Epps sidelined by a pair of fouls, LSU stayed level on the boards with the Razorbacks and outscored them 20 to 8 in the paint. Their ball movement was superb, assisting on their first six field goals and 10 of 17 for the first 20 minutes. LSU would finish with 18 assists on 29 made field goals.

“Our guys shared the ball really well,” Wade said. “That shows a connected team, a team that’s a family.”

The Razorbacks found their stroke after halftime, hitting nine of their first 12 second-half attempts, and cut the deficit to 12 on a jumper from CJ Jones. But LSU ran off a 7-0 run of their own, getting an Epps 3 and back-to-back layups from Brandon Rachal for a 62-43 lead with 8:44 remaining.

“Epps hit that huge three when it was at 12 to put us back up 15,” said Wade.  That gave us what we needed the rest of the way.”

Arkansas never got the deficit back under 20. Duop Reath’s jumper with 4:33 to go stretched LSU’s lead back to 24. After starting the half 9-of-12, Arkansas missed eight of their final dozen attempts from the floor.

The Tigers also outscored Arkansas 29 to 17 off the bench, led by 12 points and five rebounds from Randy Onswuasor, a contribution Wade called “a huge, huge lift. We’ve been waiting on that from him.”

“We did a much better job in the second half,” Wade said. “We’d been giving up 40-plus points the last two second halves. We only gave up 33 tonight. We won the second half after having a big lead. All around, a great night for our team and for our program.”

 

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