The 2018-19 LSU basketball team got off to the start it wanted as it dominated Southeastern Louisiana for a 94-63 season-opening win Tuesday night in the PMAC.
The Tigers (1-0) used a dominant first half to blow by the Lions (0-1) with stout defense and a wide array of scoring options.
Six LSU players posted double-digit scoring tallies in the game – five of which are newcomers to the team – and nobody played more than 27 minutes in the game as the Tigers spread the wealth.
“In the first half, we played very, very well,” said LSU head coach Will Wade. “I wish we shared the ball a little bit better on offense. I wish we would have dove on a couple loose balls, but overall I thought we played well.”
The Tigers tallied only seven assists as a team in the first half, a stat born from one-on-one matchups and poor shot decisions that Wade said he’d like to see corrected before the Tigers take on UNC-Greensboro on Friday.
Freshman forward Emmitt Williams recorded a LSU’s first double-double of the season in his first start as a Tiger, tallying 12 points and 10 rebounds in his debut.
Williams said he didn’t even know he was going to start until Wade told him to sit down on the bench before lineups were announced.
But he took advantage of the opportunity by showing off his athleticism and picking up seven offensive boards, a state Wade really liked to see.
“To be real with you guys I was kind of nervous earlier,” Williams said. “I was sweating so much I had to put on deodorant again. But I was blessed to see it. As you can see, we did a great job.”
Naz Reid put on a show in his debut as well, tallying 15 points and four rebounds in the first half as he scored in a variety of ways. He finished with 17 points.
Off the bench Marlon Taylor tallied 15 points in 15 minutes and showed off his freakish athleticism in the process.
Wade said Taylor wasn’t cleared to play until after being looked at by a doctor Tuesday morning, but he contributed in a major way and showed his value to the team when he got on the floor.
“I felt great,” Tylor said. “I felt at home, especially being out there with my brothers. It was great. All the fans came out to support.”
The Tigers drew a solid crowd for the opener with an announced attendance of 10,513 fans and a lively student section.
Wade said he was pleased with the turnout and that he hoped the team showed enough to get them to come back.
“I thought the crowd was unbelievable,” Wade said “I think we had 1,500 or 1,600 student. I thought the student section was great. I couldn’t believe how many folks were there, so I want to thank everyone for coming out, especially late on a Tuesday night.”
After a quick start to the game, Tremont Waters finished the game with 9 points and five steals.
Wade said he’d like to see more from him, but complimented the guys around Waters that made sure the game was well in hand despite his relative lack of scoring.
Waters suffered a minor head injury early in the first half, and he seemed to shy away from driving toward the hoop after that.
LSU took its foot off the gas in the second half, which allowed for some unexpected entertainment value when SLU’s Parker Edwards came off the bench and scored 25 points.
Edwards hit 3-pointer after 3-pointer, eventually winning the crowd in the PMAC over to his side as the cheers for him grew louder with each made basket.
Wade called the performance “something else.”
“We have to do a better job,” he said. “I know people enjoyed seeing that, but to me that’s embarrassing that we can’t guard him. We can’t do that. We have to do a much better job there.”
After the game, LSU honored former basketball player Wayde Sims, who was killed in an altercation last month on what was supposed to be the Tigers’ first day of practice.
Athletics director Joe Alleva presented Sims’ parents with an American flag that flew in the PMAC from 2005-2018, and Wade gave them the game ball from the Tigers’ season opener.
The ceremony concluded with a video tribute to Sims that chronicled his time playing for both LSU and University Lab.
“We showed (the video) to the team yesterday afternoon after practice,” Wade said. “It’s touching. It was certainly tough to show it to the team and it was tough to see it on the video board. … He’s going to be with us, and we’re going to keep fighting for him.”