LSU maintained its spot atop the Southeastern Conference rankings with its most convincing victory since in more than a month as it took down Texas A&M 66-55 without much issue late Tuesday night.
The Tigers (23-5, 13-2 SEC) forced 10 turnovers in the first half and all five starters scored at least five points to take a 36-20 lead into the break. All of LSU’s points came from either inside the paint or at the free throw line.
“We won the game like I like to win the game,” said LSU coach Will Wade. “40 points in the paint, 18 points at the free-trow line… we only turned the ball over nine times. That’s two straight games we’ve had fewer than 10 turnovers this season.
“We had a season-high for deflections this game. We were all over the place with our hands. Our hand activity was great. Overally, just a good, good win.”
Skylar Mays made history during the first half when he hit a technical foul free throw to earn his 1,000th point in an LSU uniform.
Mays is the 41st person in program history to join the 1,000 points club.
“Just another record for him,” Wade said. “Pretty apropos, he made it no a free throw. Best free throw shooter makes it on a free throw.
“I’m very happy for him. Just shows his consistency and how hard he works. … He’ll be moving on up (the list of career scorers). He has plenty more points to score.”
Mays — who doesn’t remember how he got his first bucket at LSU but remembers what sneakers he was wearing — said it was an honor to join such an elite club that includes Clarence Ceasar, Pete Maravich, Shaquille O’Neal, Collis Temple and many other LSU greats from every era.
“It means the world. I think it is just a sign of hard work paying off. I am happy to be in that club. I want to thank everybody for passing me the ball and getting me open looks. I am kind of speechless.”
After scoring just a point in LSU’s 82-80 victory against Tennessee, LSU freshman forward Naz Reid came up big against the Aggies (12-15, 5-10), nearly earning a double-double in the first half alone with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
“That was part of the game plan,” Wade said. “We wanted to get him involved early. We knew we had a mismatch. They play a small four with Savion Flagg, so we knew we had a mismatch and we wanted to get the ball into (Reid). … I knew he was going to bounce back.”
He eventually earned that double-double, finishing the game shooting 6-for-12 for 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Kavell Bigby-Williams also put together a nice stat line that included 10 points and 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season.
With regular starting point guard Tremont Waters still out of action due to an undisclosed illness, Javonte Smart once again stepped up and put together another stellar performance, tallying 17 points and 7 rebounds.
Waters didn’t participate in the game Tuesday night, but this time he was present in the arena wearing street clothes.
“Just him being around us, it shows the progress he has made on his way back versus not even being in the building for the Tennessee game,” Mays said. “I know he is going to come back and he is going to do what he has been doing and come back full strength. Then we can make this push for an SEC title a deep run in March.”
LSU led by as many as 21 points in the first half thanks in large part to a four-minute stretch in which the Aggies failed to earn a bucket.
Texas A&M hung around for most of the second half, even cutting LSU’s lead to single digits with 2:30 left, but the comeback was too little, too late.
Wendell Mitchell Led the Aggies with 14 points.