No. 22 LSU pulls away late to down Memphis, 85-76

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Memphis vs. LSU
(Photo: Jonathan Mailes)

BATON ROUGE – LSU ran its unbeaten streak at home to 10 consecutive games dating back to last season, using a 12-3 run in the final 3:36 of the first half and go on to defeat the Memphis Tigers 85-76 Tuesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The run allowed LSU to go from a 36-36 to a 48-39 halftime advantage and even though Memphis came back to take the lead in the second half, the Tigers were able to make the plays down the stretch to run their record to 3-0 on the season. Memphis fell to 1-1.

LSU has one game remaining in its opening four-game homestand and that comes up Friday night at 7 p.m. against Louisiana Tech.

Skylar Mays had eight points in the run at the end of the first half and finished the game with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting with three treys and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Five LSU players finished in double figures with Kavell Bigby-Williams having a strong night with 14 points in 17 minutes on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting. Ja’vonte Smart made it three straight games in double digits with 13, while Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams both scoring 11.

Williams also had his second double double of the season with 10 boards. Tremont Waters had just eight points but had eight assists and three steals, much of that in the final part of the second half when LSU put the game away.

Coach Penny Hardaway’s Tigers were led by Tyler Harris, who hit six treys enroute to 20 points. Jeremiah Martin had 15 points and Kyron Davenport had 10.

The Tigers shot 54.0 percent for the game (34-of-63), the second straight game over 50 percent and the 15th straight time the Tigers have won when shooting over 50 percent for a game. LSU made five treys and was 12-of-16 from the floor. Memphis shot 40.6 percent for the game (26-of-64) with 10 treys and 14-of-20 at the FT line.

Even after LSU took the halftime advantage, Memphis wasn’t ready to roll over as Harris hit five straight points and Davenport had a dunk to cut the LSU lead to just two and force Coach Will Wade to call a timeout at the 17:46 mark. Memphis would eventually take the first of two leads at 52-50 and 54-52, the latter at the 13:56 mark on a bucket by Martin.

LSU would then roll off a 12-1 run that would put LSU back up by nine, 64-55 with 10:04 to go. In the run, Williams hit a jumper and LSU got back-to-back threes by Mays and Reid. Isaiah Maurice would hit a free throw and then Ja’vonte Smart hit back-to-back buckets to close the run.

It was a lead that Memphis would not overcome cutting the game only as close as seven on four occasions the rest of the way. The LSU Tigers biggest lead came with 4:04 to go in the game, pushing the advantage to 11 points, a margin equaled in the final minute of the game.

Friday night’s game will be video streamed on the SEC Network + and broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. Tickets are available online at and at the LSU Athletic Ticket Office located in the Athletic Administration Building during normal business hours.

LSU Head Coach Will Wade

Opening statement…
“Good win. I thought our post guys did a great job. They were 20-of-28 from the field with 25 rebounds. Emmitt (Williams) and Darius (Days) got 10 offensive rebounds between the two of them. I thought they did a really, really nice job. It’s a good win for us. Memphis is a much improved team. They play extremely hard. They’ve got a good scheme. They come at you for 40 minutes with the pressure. I thought Tremont (Waters) did a nice job of bringing us home in those last six minutes. He made a lot of the plays down the stretch for us. It was good for us to have our balanced scoring. Thought we did a decent job on the glass. Gave them a few too many offensive rebounds, but we were able to win on the glass. Blocked six shots and stole it 10 times. Good team win for us. There are obviously some areas we need to improve, but I thought that changing defenses helped tonight a lot as well.”

On the final six minutes of the first half and Skylar Mays’ dunk…
“I thought that was a great finish to the first half. I wish we would have started the second half a little bit better. I thought the end of the first half was really, really good to go in up nine points. Maybe we didn’t have our best half and we let Tyler Harris get going early. We gave him a deep three early that let him get going. He’s a prolific scorer and we saw that when he played AAU. I thought Skylar really picked it up for us. He maybe didn’t have his best couple games the first two games. We really, the last couple days challenged him and Kavell (Bigby-Williams). I was really 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.”

LSU Forward Emmitt Williams
On the win over Memphis tonight…
“It was great. As you can see, both teams played well. It was great to see my old teammate Antwann Jones. I think my team came out and played hard and as you can see, we got the dub. We played together and we had fun tonight.”

On the increased intensity in the second half…
“Will Wade. Have him yell in your face. One thing about our coach is he will tell us what we do wrong and what we do right. We watch film to see what we do wrong and we correct ourselves and as you can see, we did what we were supposed to do and came out with the win.”

LSU Guard Skylar Mays
On Kavell Bigby-Williams’ performance tonight…
“Huge, you know he is just another guy on our team that can step up. Like I said, he works hard and you can see stuff like that coming.”

On Kavell Bigby-Williams’s ability to score…
“It is important for him to understand that even though he does such a great job on defense, he is capable of scoring and I feel like he is only going to sky rocket from this game.”

LSU Forward Kavell Bigby-Williams
On his impact in the game…
“I just played hard and helped the team as best I can. The last game I did not play particularly good in terms of energy, so I thought this game I should come off the bench and bring the energy and that is what I felt like I did today.”

On advantage over Memphis in points in the paint…
“It was definitely important because Coach always preaches that and easy shots were opened up for our guards. Skylar Mays hit a lot of good shots today and that was a very good team that we played, so the fact that we could get the ball inside showed we were playing very physical today.”

LSU Guard Ja’vonte Smart
On feelings of winning another big game…
“It felt awesome to be in my freshman year in college and we’ve won three games in a row. I am just happy to be here right now.”

On his hot performance to start the game…
“Before the game, we put in work and then two days before the game, we just keep working hard. Coach helps me have confidence and I just came in the game with it.”

Memphis Head Coach Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway

Opening statement…
“Proud of my guys for tonight. They came into a very hostile environment against a really good team, a Top 25 team in the SEC. They hit us first. We took the punch and hit back and got back into the game and then they made a run on us at the end of the half. We didn’t do the things we needed to do to finish out that half. We came out in the second half and in the first three or four minutes we got back into the game and took the lead. We couldn’t finish it but I’m proud of my guys.”

On what the team’s performance showed about its potential for the rest of the season …
“It told me that we can be very special when we buy into our roles. What we showed tonight was a lot of fight on the road with a young team. We have young guys that are playing a lot of minutes and it just showed me that we have a really special team. We just have to keep working. We can do a lot of great things this season with this team.”

On the team’s shooting performance against LSU …
“It was very crucial for us because we started telling them to get downhill because our guards were doing a great job of getting into the paint. We still shot 30 three’s and to me, that’s 10 too many unless we’re high from the field. We’re going to slowly cut that down and getting more free throws. We want to win the free-throw game and the rebound game and not the three-point game. That’s just really high – 6-for-24 last game and 10-for-30 today. It’s a tough way to live.”

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