Reid, Waters lead No. 23 LSU past UNCG, 97-91

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BATON ROUGE – Everything LSU Coach Will Wade told the media on Thursday about the UNCG team it would face on Friday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center proved to be true.

The No. 23-ranked Tigers withstood a barrage of three-pointers and a late rally to scores a 97-91 win over the Spartans to go to 2-0 on the young season heading to a televised game with Memphis on Tuesday night at the Maravich Center.

The Tigers were led by freshman forward Naz Reid who had 29 points on 11-of-14 field goal shooting, including four treys, to go with seven rebounds. LSU sophomore preseason All-SEC selection, point guard Tremont Waters, was on his game with his sixth double double of his career with 21 points, 10 assists and six steals. Another freshman Ja’vonte Smart added 13 points.

The Spartans became the third team in the history of the Maravich Center to make 19 three-pointers in a game, tying a mark first set by North Florida in 2015 and Florida in 2016. Kyrin Galloway hit 8-of-10 free throws (12-of-14 overall) to finish with 32 points for game scoring honors. Francis Alonso hit five treys in a 20 points, 5 assist night, while Isaiah Miller added 13 and Demetrius Troy posted 11.

The Tigers won for the 50th time in the last 55 games when shooting over 50 percent from the field dating back to the 2012-13 season as LSU made 30-of-54 field goals (55.6%) and 9-of-18 three-point field goals. LSU made its first 22 free throws in the contest before missing for the first time with under three minutes remaining. LSU would finish 28-of-31 (90.3%).

In LSU’s first two contests the Tigers are 52-of-62 at the free throw line.

The Tigers shot well but turned the ball over 17 times. However, UNCG only got five points all game on those 17 turnovers compared to the 20 points LSU got on the 14 UNCG miscues. LSU had a 38-24 advantage in the paint and almost doubled UNCG on the boards, 34-18.

The Spartans shot well as well, actually better than LSU, hitting 34-of-60 for 56.7% overall and 19-of-33 for 57.6% from the arc.

UNCG (1-1), winners of 52 games over the last two years, had the early advantage in the game, getting five leads of six points in the first 6:30 of the game before the Tigers were finally able to tie the game at 23 on a jumper by Kavell Bigby-Williams with 9:37 in the first half.

The teams traded a couple of leads before LSU got the advantage for good on a 12-0 run that took a two-point, 27-25, deficit to 37-25 in favor of the Tigers. Darius Days made two free throws to tie it, then Mays hit a jumper and a free throw, Reid hit a bucket, Waters had a steal and a score and Reid climaxed the run with a three-pointer.

The Tigers in the final 7:57 of the first half would outscore the Spartans, 24-9, the rest of the half to go to the dressing room up by a 49-36 score.

LSU had a run in the latter stages of the first 10 minutes of the second half that pushed the lead to 72-54 with 12:20 to play and appeared to have the game in check at that point. But the Spartans continued to battle back, making threes after an LSU two and scramble passing to find an open shooter.

UNCG got the game to six points at 91-85 on a Galloway trey with 1:28 to play and had a chance to close it further when LSU turned the ball over against the press. But Alonso missed a trey with 1:04 to play and LSU pushed the lead back to eight.

But UNCG got another Galloway three with 16 seconds left to cut it to 93-88 but LSU made four free throws before Demetrius Troy hit a trey to tie the building opponent’s record with 0.9 left on the clock for the final margin.

Tickets for Tuesday’s game with Memphis will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office and online at LSUtix.net.

LSU Head Coach Will Wade

Opening statement…
“I tried telling everybody to listen to how good they were. I think everybody saw that tonight. The two things that saved us, obviously our rebounding. Doubled them up on the glass, almost. Then us, two of our goals were to out-rebound them obviously, and then to make more free throws than they attempted. Those two things saved us. It’s really tough to win when you give up 19 threes and you turn the ball over 17 times. Give our guys credit. It’s hard to score 97 points when you turn it over like that. It’s a huge, huge win. Very, very good win. They’re an excellent, excellent team. Excellent team. Give them a ton of credit. They were ready to play. They would never go away. We were up 18 with, I think 12 and a half minutes left, and they just kept chipping away, chipping away, chipping away. We knew they’d do that. They had done that in their games last year as well. It was a good win for us and we certainly have to learn and grow from it and get better. I can’t fault our effort. I thought our effort defensively was good. I just think our execution is what’s lacking a little bit. We have to be able to execute better defensively. Obviously Naz (Reid), really, really good. Tremont (Waters) played well. I thought some other guys, Ja`vonte (Smart) steady as he goes. Thought Kavell (Bigby-Williams) maybe didn’t have his best game, but he had two huge blocks at the rim, which really helped us. Even more than Naz’s points, he made two huge defensive plays in the last minute and a half of the game and he got two big rebounds. Those were huge winning plays. Just a team effort and we’ll take it and turn the page and get ready for a good Memphis team on Tuesday night. Our guys were tired. It’s been a long, they haven’t had a day off in almost 10 days with the way the calendar is broken. Our guys were tired and we were able to gut it out and win this one. We need to take a day off tomorrow night and refresh ourselves and get back to work on Sunday.”

On how facing a great three-point shooting the team can help LSU…
“I like to pull away. When you miss layups, we missed four or five layups at the rim, and that puts your transition defense in a really, really tough spot. You’re a man down. They just found the open guy. We ran to the wrong area sometimes and we just left #14 (Kyrin Galloway) wide open. Give them credit. They found the right guys. They had some guys, (James) Dickey, that was his first ever three. I think (Malik) Massey had maybe made a few threes last year. I think Isaiah Miller made one three in his whole career there and hit two tonight. Like I told our guys, they’re Division I players. You’ve got to close out on them and have a hand on them somewhere.”

On how playing an opponent like this early in the season can help the young LSU team…
“I think it was big. We’ve got to learn and grow from that. When you play an experienced team, a really good team, that’s the type of team we want to fancy ourselves with. That’s an NCAA tournament type team. That a team you’ll have to beat in the first round. You’ve got to beat a team like that on a neutral court. If we played this game tonight on a neutral court, I don’t know how good the Tigers would have been. We’ve got a lot of improvement to do. We’ve got to learn from this. I think this is a good litmus test for where we are and what we need to improve on. I don’t want to keep harping on this and bringing it up, but this was a very, very good win for us.”

LSU Guard Tremont Waters

On three-point shooting from UNC-Greensboro…
“To start off, Coach said to try and take away number 10 [Francis Alonso]. As we were playing, we sent our big man to him too much and that is where 14 [Kyrin Galloway] started to get hot, so at that point we had to make an adjustment. It just was not working, so we have a lot of stuff to work on.”

On toughness of playing UNC-Greensboro compared to Southeastern Louisiana…
“They are a fast-paced team. Obviously, when their big man got hot, everything started to turn up, so we had to score, get back on defense and get a stop, but it was not going that way so we had to make sure we scored every time down and just try to fight and get a stop.

LSU Guard Ja’vonte Smart

On handling the press defense from UNC-Greensboro…
“We handled it really well, coming from Tremont and Skylar (Mays) and me, the guards and the bigs. They helped us just getting the ball across and just setting the play up for the offense.”

On his shooting performance…
“Tonight I didn’t shoot that many, I just wanted to attack. Coach said get them in foul trouble and just make shots from the free-throw line. We work on that every day. Ten shots every practice, we just have to knock them down.”

LSU Forward Naz Reid

On his efficient shooting during the game…
“I didn’t really realize it. My teammates did a good job getting me the ball and I was able to put it in the basket for them.”

On significance of 12-point run in the first half to build a lead…
“That was really big for us. We just need to get more stops. That is something we will work on more and being able to value the ball more from all of us, but other than that, I feel like we did a good job tonight.”

UNC Greensboro Head Coach Wes Miller

Opening Statement…
“Well I think, give the credit to Will (Wade) and his group. They’re really good, really gifted, and proposed a lot of challenges for us on the defensive end of the floor. I thought we did some nice things offensively. I was happy with the way we shot the ball from three and some of the shots that we created with our offense. I didn’t like us turning the ball over. I didn’t like us on the boards on defense or on offense. I thought we got just destroyed there. You look up and you make 19 threes, score 91 points, and you lose. I think that’s telling you you’re not doing some things defensively and you’re not doing some things rebounding. Give LSU some credit for that too.”

Key to getting Kyrin Galloway going offensively…
“We think he can be a weapon for us on offense and we think he needs to step into a bigger offensive role this year. I think it will be really good for him moving forward in terms of building confidence to know that he can do some things. We do like to use him as a pick and pop guy, a stretch guy on the offensive end of the floor. He really did have it going from three tonight.”

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