Tremont Waters suffers broken nose, will play in SEC Tournament with face mask

ST. LOUIS — Tremont Waters will sport a new look in Thursday’s SEC Tournament opener against Mississippi State, after suffering a broken nose Monday in practice.

The freshman point guard went through Wednesday’s 40-minute shoot around with a face mask after suffering the injury while diving for a loose ball during Monday’s session before the team left Baton Rouge for St. Louis, the site of the 2018 SEC Tournament.

“He’s feeling fine,” said head coach Will Wade Wade. “He’s got to wear the mask. He shot it well. He practiced with it earlier (Wednesday) and seemed fine.”

Wade said the incident occurred when Waters dove for a loose ball in Monday’s practice.

“It’s just one of those freak things,” he said. “We had a little mix up on the floor, a couple of guys going after the ball. He got some stitches after practice. The swelling’s down. Our training staff, doctors have done a good job. We don’t expect it to affect him much, if at all.”

Waters, named to the SEC All-Freshman team Tuesday, is LSU’s leader in scoring (15.6 points per game), assists (5.9), steals (2.0), and 3-pointers made (66). He left practice after the injury Monday, was limited Tuesday, but practiced Wednesday before the shootaround.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Waters said of the injury.

He would, however, talk about the mask. LSU had to special order a couple different types of masks Monday and have them shipped to St. Louis, eventually fitting Waters with the best one available. Custom masks take longer to fit and order, so Waters will make due.

“Never played with it before,” Waters said. “It’s going to be uncomfortable for like the first two minutes, but I’ll just forget about it and keep playing.”

Waters’ injury and face mask have a historical precedent in LSU basketball history. It was 25 years ago Maurice Williamson – like Waters, a guard from New Haven, Conn. – broke his nose and had to wear a face mask on the floor. Williamson, then a senior, helped lead a Tiger team that entered the SEC Tournament on the bubble to a run at the finals, which included a win over No. 5 Vanderbilt. LSU lost in the championship game to hosts Kentucky, but landed an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 11 seed, where they would fall to Jason Kidd’s California squad.

Waters is hoping for similar success in St. Louis, especially after the media picked his team to finish last in SEC in the preseason.

“It’s a great feeling to be a freshman guard and play with a team that came from where they’ve come since last season,” he said. “Knowing I’ll be able to pretty much run the show, play with Skylar Mays, Brandon Sampson, all these guys. As far as we’ve come since the preseason rankings, I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job. Hopefully we can come out, win some games, and hopefully win the championship.”

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