LSU showed it can run-and-gun against a team with similar tendencies as it defeated Memphis 85-76 Tuesday night in the PMAC.
Five different LSU (3-0)athletes tallied double-digit scoring tallies in the win as LSU scored in a variety of ways with multiple players going off for extended spurts against a Memphis (1-1) team that played with similar personnel.
Skylar Mays had his best game of the young season, shooting 6 for 11 from the field and 3 for 5 from the 3-point line for 19 points. Emmitt Williams picked up his second double-double of the year with 11 points and 10 rebounds with six offensive rebounds.
Skylar Mays took over late in the first half on a spree that started with a huge, crowd-exciting dunk over Mike Parks followed by a block by Darius Days on the other end that set up an impressive reverse layup by Mays.
“That was amazing,” said LSU guard Ja’vonte Smart. “I haven’t seen him do that since high school. We grew up in the same city, so it was fun to watching that. I haven’t seen that in a long time.”
Williams apparently wasn’t so lucky to go so long without seeing that kind of play. Early on during summer practice Williams said Mays put him on a poster in a similar fashion.
“First day of practice Skylar dunked on me and I was like ‘oh God, what am I supposed to do now,'” Williams said. “That was my first time getting dunked on in college. That was my sign, right there, welcome to college.”
The dunk seemed to energize Mays and increase the circumfrance of the basket as he hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 1:27 of the first half, aiding LSU in taking a 48-39 lead into the halftime break, its biggest lead of the game to that point.
Kavell Bigby-Williams also had his best night in an LSU uniform, shooting a perfect 7 for 7 for 14 points.
His biggest contributions came in the second half with Naz Reid on the bench due to picking up his fourth foul before the midway point of the second half.
“When one of our guys is in foul trouble, the next man has to step up,” Bigby-Williams said. “Today I feel I was able to step up and help my team out as best I could.”
Wade agreed, saying that Bigby-Williams’ performance showcased the best the 6-foot-11 forward has to offer for LSU.
Wade said it wasn’t a coincidence Bigby-Williams and Mays had their best games of the season thus far Tuesday night.
“We really, the last couple days challenged (Mays) and Kavell (Bigby-Williams),” Wade said. “I was realy proud of those guys for the way they responded.
“What we saw from Kavell tonight is what he does. He’s a really good player for us. I was really proud of Sky and Kavell.”
Smart got off to a hot start, hitting his first four shots of the game to score eight points in the first half.
After shooting just two field-goal attempts against UNC-Greensboro on Friday, Smart said it was nice to get some early looks.
“That’s big,” Smart said. “Knowing I hit just two shots last game, I wanted to come in here in this game and show people what I could do and try to help my team get the win.”
After Mays’ big end to the first half, LSU took a 48-39 lead into the halftime break. That comfortable lead didn’t last long in the second half as Memphis scored the first seven points and went on a 13-2 run to take a 52-50 lead early in the second half.
But LSU responded with a 12-1 run of its own that involved four different players getting involved that put the Tigers up 64-55 just past the midway point of the half.
From there, LSU largely controlled the pace, with Memphis only getting as close as seven points for the remainder of the game.
Memphis hit 10 3-pointers, six of which were credited to Tyler Harris who finished with a game-high 20 points.
“”We let Tyler Harris get going early,” Wade said. “We gave up a deep three early that let him get going. He’s a prolific scorer, and we saw that when he played AAU.”
Naz Reid miss much of the second half in foul trouble after picking up his fourth personal foul before the midway point of the second half. After coming back in with about five minutes remaining, he had to miss another minute after getting hit in the face while putting up a shot.
Still, he finished the game with 11 points and five rebounds with multiple highlight plays to his credit, including a behind-the-back, step-back jumper from just in front of the 3-point line and a circus shot that went in despite his back facing the rim.
LSU will get back to action on Friday when it returns to the PMAC for its fourth straight home game against in-state rival Louisiana Tech.
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