LSU played a couple of different offensive styles Sunday afternoon in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
And both worked rather nicely in a 86-55 non-conference win over Louisiana Tech.
After hitting 7 of 12 3-pointers in the first half, the Tigers made a concerted effort to drive the ball as much as possible in the final 20 minutes. The result was 40 of LSU’s 43 second-half points except for a lone JaVonte Smart 3-pointer came on layups, free throws and an occasional mid-range jumper.
Defensively, LSU held Tech to 28.8 percent from the field, including just 17.2 percent from the field.
“Our defense is getting better, our presses are getting better, I like the way we are trending.,” LSU coach Will Wade. “We’ve been locked in.”
Sophomore forward Trendon Watford led the Tigers (3-1) with 18 points (including 10 of 12 free throws) and 8 rebounds. Junior guard Smart added 16 points and 6 rebounds and freshman guard Cam Thomas also had 16. Junior forward Darius Days, who jumpstarted LSU with hot 3-point shooting, had 12 points and 8 rebounds.
“It’s just been a continuous thing, we come in everyday sharing the ball finding guys in their spots, finding me, finding Cam, finding Javonte,” Watford said. “I think Days starting the game on the outside, he opened the basket a lot. He opened the basket for everyone. With that impact at the beginning, it led to a lot of driving lanes for us.”
Louisiana Tech (3-1) was led by freshman Kenneth Lofton Jr., who scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
LSU led by as many as 21 points in the first half before a 4:20 drought in the last five minutes settled the Tigers on 43-24 lead at the break.
Both teams possessed frigid shooting in the game’s first 4:10 before Days drained three consecutive catch-and-shoot 3-pointers in 71 seconds that took LSU to a 14-5 advantage and forcing Tech to call a time out.
By the 9:34 mark, the Tigers had staked a double-digit lead. It got most of its offense from Smart, who nailed his first three 3s, and from Watford, who did as nice job of drawing contact inside and getting to the foul line.
LSU’s 2-3 zone was solid closing out on Tech’s outside shooters. The reason the Bulldogs were within sniffing distance at the half was the 6-7, 275-pound Lofton, who more than half of Tech’s points and rebounds in the first half. His double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes was by fueled him by grabbing 6 of Tech’s 7 offensive rebounds.
Even when Lofton left the floor with an apparent injury with 13:18 left, the Bulldogs were in the midst of comeback. A stagnant LSU offense led to a 7-0 Tech run that cut the Tigers’ lead to 14 points at 55-39.
LSU offense was reduced to dribbling and too much 1 on 1 play. The Tigers re-ignited with a series of fastbreaks on an 8-0 run that pushed LSU’s cushion back 22 points for a 65-43 lead when Tech called timeout with 8:31 left.
“They’ve got so many different weapons,” Tech coach Eric Konkol. “They got it going from three early. They really stretch you and when they do it causes you to start doing other things. That opened up the floor for them to get to the point, go to the foul line a lot and they just really steamrolled
The Tigers don’t play again until Saturday afternoon at 1:30 when they face South Florida in the Holiday Hoopsgiving in Atlanta.
As always, even in a 31-point win, Wade found something his team needed to improve.
“I didn’t think our offense was great, 15 turnovers, 7 assists,” Wade said. “They (Tech) did some different things. They came and doubled us off the bounce a couple times. We have to move that ball and share that ball a little bit better. We should have scored 95, 100 points.”