By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Wayde Sims is quiet by nature. He prefers to let his play speak for itself, and, if necessary, to use words.
Sometimes, like Tuesday night, he uses both, to great effect.
Sims, coming off the bench for the first time since LSU’s 94-90 loss to Marquette in Maui, provided a much-needed spark from the sidelines, registering his first double-double of the season and second of his career to help push LSU past Sam Houston State, 80-58.
“I wanted to come out with a whole bunch of energy and get my teammates fired up to play,” said Sims, who also added three blocks. “Mainly on the defensive end. They were outrebounding us at one point, and I came in and just tried to get all the rebounds.”
Skylar Mays (13), Randy Onswuasor (13), Duop Reath (11), and Daryl Edwards (11) made it five Tigers in double figures, and Will Wade mixed and matched defenses to hold the Bearkats to 35.9 percent shooting.
“We had active hands,” said Wade. “We got some deflections. we got some steals out of it. anytime you have a 1-3-1 , you’ve got to be active up top. Our guys had some activity up top. We did a good job changing our defenses, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
The Tigers (7-3) came out of the gates on the back foot, falling behind 19-11 after a 17-4 Bearkat run. Christopher Galbreath and Aidan Edwards did the bulk of the damage, teaming up for 19 of the first 21 points for the visitors.
Wade began mixing up defenses, though, to great effect. LSU would surrender just 10 points over the final 12:06 of the half. And Sims scooped up every rebound in sight, keying the comeback with a blocked shot on defense and a three-point play off a putback on offense. Back-to-back 3s from Edwards and Mays returned the lead to the Tigers, and Tremont Waters’ first long-range connection of the game with 1:51 left in the half put LSU up by three scores for the first time all night. Between the end of the first half and the start of the second, LSU would go on a 16-0 run, with a pair of Waters threes, a trio of Mays layups, and four points from Reath, the focal point of a balanced offensive attack constructed from the inside out.
The perimeter turned a large lead into an insurmountable one. Onwuasor, who averaged 23.6 points per game at Southern Utah last season, caught fire for the first time all year, scoring all of his 13 points after the break. Mays connected on four of his five layups in the second half, and Edwards’ third three of the game gave the Tigers their largest lead, 68-38, with 7:39 remaining. Meanwhile, the Tiger zone kept the Bearkat attack at bay on the other end, as the guests managed just 34.6 percent shooting in the second half.
For Onwuasor, it was the breakthrough he’s been waiting for. It was fitting his spurt was a product of a defensive stop, a steal he turned into a dunk on the other end before hitting a pair of triples.
“I just seen the ball go in the hoop,” he said. “I’m just a natural scorer. Once I see one go in, I can finally get in the rhythm of the game.”
“Hopefully, this will get him going,” Wade said. “He’s shown it in practice. I’m sure everybody was like, why in the world is he still out there playing/ for whatever reason we haven’t been able to get it out of him int he game. Hopefully, the will crack the code tonight,”
Sims’ corner three-pointer with six minutes to go gave him his first double-double of the season and a 71-43 lead, allowing Wade to clear the bench until the final buzzer. One player who didn’t play, however, was grad transfer Jeremy Combs, who Wade said is likely done for the season due to an ankle injury.
“He’s pretty banged up,” Wade said. “I don’t know whether he’ll be back this year. We may have to shut him down, so he can live a normal, healthy life. His ankle’s pretty messed up.”