No. 22 LSU downs Bowling Green in opening game

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BATON ROUGE – The No. 22 LSU Tigers used a 19-0 first-half run to take charge of the opening game of the 2019-20 season and scored an 88-79 win over Bowling Green Friday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers, 1-0 on the season, will now travel to Richmond, Virginia on Wednesday to take on VCU. LSU’s next home game is on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m. against Nicholls. Tickets are available at LSUtix.net.

The Falcons, one of the favorites in the MAC, jumped out to an 18-12 lead with 13:22 to go in the first half on a three-point field goal by Caleb Fields. Bowling Green still led by five, 20-15, at the 12:21 mark when the 19-0 run began.

Emmitt Williams hit a three and Javonte Smart hit two consecutive three pointers and then Skylar Mays hit a three to push LSU out 27-20 with 8:56 to go in the first half. Trendon Watford got a layup at make it 29-20 and then Watford hit a fast break dunk off a Smart pass to make it 31-20 forcing Bowling Green to call timeout with 7:14 to go in the half.

Darius Day concluded the run at the 6:07 mark of the half to make it 34-20 when he hit his own three-point attempt.

Five Tigers were in double figures with Javonte Smart and Emmitt Williams each getting 21 points. Last season as a freshman, Williams’ highs were 15 against South Carolina and Saint Mary’s. It was Smart’s second career game over 20 points.

Skylar Mays had 18 points with Darius Days scoring 13 and Trendon Watford 10 to complete the LSU double figure scorers.

Bowling Green, 1-1, was led by Justin Turner with 26 points, while Fields had 17 and Dylan Frye 15.

The Tigers had 36 points in the paint to just 10 for the Falcons, but the Tigers had 16 turnovers to nine for BGSU and the Falcons got 16 points off turnovers.

For the game, the Tigers shot 47.4% from the field (27-57), and 7-of-18 from the arc (38.9%). The Tigers, after an off game in the exhibition with LA Tech, rebounded at the line to shoot 79.4 percent (27-34). BGSU shot 32 percent for the game (24-75) with 14 three-pointers.

LSU out rebounded Bowling Green, 46-41 with Smart and Mays the leading rebounds with eight each. Days, Watford and Williams each had seven. Tayler Mattos had 12 for Bowling Green.

The Falcons got the game back to 10 at halftime and down to five at one point in the second half, but the Tigers were able to extend the lead when needed to finish off the game before a paid crowd of 9,622. Williams had 16 of his 21 points in the second half and Mays had 10 in the final 20 minutes.

Wednesday’s VCU game will be seen on ESPN2 beginning at 5 p.m. CT and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network.

LSU Head Coach Will Wade

On the slow start to the game…
“I thought we were a little bit out of sync. (Bowling Green) came out very physical. They gave us a lot of resistance early. I think it took our guys, I am not going to say by surprise, but we were playing on our heels. We were chasing them all over the court defensively and offensively. Luckily, Javonte (Smart) hit a bunch of tough shots. He hit a bunch of tough jumpers and pull-ups and that sort of thing. We were able to kind of hang in there and go on that 19-0 run which helped. I really think our spurtability is really good. We just have to be more consistent with what we are doing. We can’t be so up and down with the spurts.”

On the 19-0 run…
“(Skylar) Mays and Javonte hit threes. I think they had five threes between them on that 19-0 run. Then the turnover problem. We have a major turnover problem. If we go into (VCU) Wednesday and turn the ball over like we have been turning the ball over, we are going to get our doors blown off. We have to do a better job. We were up 15 right there before the half and came down and had two-straight turnovers that changed the game a little bit. We have to be better there. Be sharp with the ball. Just be more consistent with what we are doing.”

On the defense…
“Our defense was really good. Any time you hold a team to 32 percent from the field. We did that to (Bowling Green). We did that to Louisiana Tech. I thought our rebounding was better tonight. They made some tough threes. They made 14 threes. They made some very tough threes.”

LSU Guard Skylar Mays

On the team overcoming early jitters and settling in…

“We just needed to settle down and get in the rhythm of the game. It was definitely good to see these guys get their feet wet. I’m just excited for this team. We feel like we could have been a lot better today but give credit to Bowling Green, especially those two guards (Dylan) Frye and (Justin) Turner. They hit some tough shots and made it a game. They are a quality team and we’re going to be happy with this win come March.”

On Bowling Green continuing to hang around…

“They came out hot. They had the lead for the first few minutes I believe. They have a lot of veterans and they have four starters that came back from last year so this isn’t their first rodeo. For some of the guys here like Charles (Manning Jr.) and Trendon (Watford) who this was their first start and for them to play the way they did for their first game was huge.”

LSU Forward Emmitt Williams

On his performance overall…

“It was a good season opener for me but as you see, my team played great. They gave me the ball so that’s how I got a lot of shots and I was just trying to go to the glass. I want to give credit to my teammates.”

On emphasizing rebounding…

“Rebounding is huge. My main emphasis for this season is rebounding. I really don’t care about the points – they are going to come but my big emphasis is rebounding.”

LSU Guard Javonte Smart

On hitting early threes and getting the crowd involved…

“I just wanted to bring the energy. We came out kind of slow but I just wanted to start the game off right and we eventually found our groove there in the first half.”

On feeling confident in his shot…

“I think they knew I like to drive the ball. I have been working hard on being consistent with my three-pointer and it paid off tonight knocking down some big shots. I’m happy to get the first win.”

Bowling Green Head Coach Michael Huger

Opening statement…
“We weren’t able to make shots. We had great looks at the basket, great shot opportunities, layups, and just weren’t able to knock them down. When we missed, they were able to turn those into layups on the other end. We only turned the ball over nine times, so we did a good job of not turning it over but when we did, they were able to score in transition. They are a very good team. They shoot it well enough, but they’ve got great size at every position, they drive it extremely hard, and go to the offensive boards. They got nine offensive rebounds against us, but they were able to turn those into second-chance points.”

On LSU’s defense and what makes them so good
“Those are shots we normally make but what they did do bothered us. They are very good defensively. That was the thing I saw that was most impressive. I was very impressed by how well they were able to corral the ball, how well they helped each other, and how well they crashed the boards. They really only give you one crack at it. It’s hard to get offensive rebounds, even though we did get 15, but we weren’t really able to turn those into second-chance points.”

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