By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Christmas came early in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center: playing time to all, and to all, a good night – North Florida excluded, of course.
Will Wade emptied the bench in a 104-52 blow out win over the Ospreys to send the Tigers (8-3) into the holidays with a second straight victory.
Tremont Waters, off a quiet 8-point, 1-assist effort in LSU’s win over Sam Houston State the last time out, led the way with 15 points and 10 assists. Duop Reath added 15 points and 7 rebounds, Aaron Epps poured in 13 points and pulled down 9 boards, and Daryl Edwards continued his sharp shooting with 10 points of 4-of-4 shooting.
Brandon Sampson, back from an ankle injury suffered against Notre in Maui, made his impact felt immediately. He subbed in with LSU down 11-10 and scored five quick points to cue a 9-0 run, before heading back to the bench with a pair of fouls. He would finish the game with 7 points in 10 minutes.
“I thought he changed the energy of the game when he got into the game, especially defensively,” Will Wade said. “They hit three (3s) before the first media. I was a little bit concerned about that. When we put Sampson in, we clamped down on that.”
Sampson said he’s at about 90 or 95 percent, and Wade added after the game he’ll use him as if he’s fully healthy moving forward into a Dec. 28 matchup at Memphis.
“It felt really good,” Sampson said. “It was killing me sitting on the sidelines, watching my team go out there and play without me. It was a day-by-day thing I couldn’t rush.”
The run didn’t stop with Sampson’s departure. The Tigers would pile on the Ospreys the rest of the half, outscoring their guests 50-15 after falling behind 8-4. Waters scored 10 points and handed out six assists, Reath scored 10 and grabbed 5 boards, and Edwards and freshman Mayan Kiir, who finished with career highs in minutes (11) and points (9), each went perfect from the field. LSU outshot North Florida 55.0 percent to 26.7 percent and outrebounded them 27 to 16. They raced away with first-half runs of 10-0, 15-0, and 8-0 and scored 30 of their points in the paint.
That 31-point lead by the Tigers at the half marks the largest lead since Dec. 13, 2008 when LSU lead Grambling 47-15.
— LSU Basketball (@LSUBasketball) December 23, 2017
The second half featured more of the same. North Florida scored the first three points on a Ryan Burkhardt 3 before the Tigers scored 14 straight, five courtesy of Waters. A pair of dunks from Epps and one from Randy Onwuasor followed by a Wayde Sims corner 3 gave LSU its first 50-point lead of the season, 84-34. Galen Alexander restored the 50-point advantage minutes later with a fastbreak three on a dish from Kiir, who rebounded and lead the break in a surprising display of skill. Walk-on Marshall Graves ensured LSU reached the century mark, scoring seven points in the second half, including a layup to give LSU 100 points.
Wade said little stood out about his bench, though, even though the Tigers won the bench scoring battle 45 to 13.
“I thought Kiir was pretty good,” Wade said. “Nothing jumped off the page at me. It probably confirmed why I play who I play.”
You'll be shocked to know that Will Wade and Greg Heiar are still screaming at defensive miscues.
Wade just called timeout to chew out his defense, and Heiar met the team at halfcourt to help.
84-39 LSU lead.
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) December 23, 2017
Another intense pre-game shootaround – as the Tigers did previously against Houston – fueled the dominance. LSU picked up its first 50 point win since a 2006 96-42 victory over Nicholls State.
“I told (sports information director) Kent (Lowe), ‘Today, we’re going to beat the breaks off of them,'” Wade said. “Today was the first day it looked like how a real shootaround should look. We were moving, we were guarding, we were talking, we were flying around.”