Baton Rouge, LA – The LSU Tigers played host to the Arkansas Razorbacks in a match-up between two of the best scoring offenses in the country. Arkansas scores at 88.2 points per game which ranks ninth in the nation while the Tigers rank 14th overall with an average of 85.6 points per contest. The Tigers offense showed up on the night and they were dominant from start to finish shooting 52 percent from the field while holding the Razorbacks octane offense to just 35 percent. It was a balanced attack for the LSU Tigers Wednesday night with five players scoring in double figures as they cruised to a 92-76 victory at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
After the Razorbacks led just 7-4 in the opening minutes, the Tigers showed off their offensive efficiency as they went on a 26-2 run that put them up 30-9 with 10:35 remaining in the first half. The talented scoring tandem of Cameron Thomas and Trendon Watford collectively scored 24 first-half points giving the Tigers a strong start. In addition, LSU forced 11 turnovers to score 14 points off those errors to take a 51-31 first-half advantage.
Watford, a sophomore who ranks 3rd in the SEC for field goal percentage, had another great shooting performance. The 6-9, 240-pound wing used his strength to take his opponent in isolation situations. He has the size and ball handling to get to his spot in the paint and elevate over smaller or weaker defenders. He has a feel for his opponent, knowing how to attack them, and is patient in creating his shot. He had a game high 23 points on an efficient 9-for-16 shooting from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds while shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from the strike.
The leading scorer in the SEC at 22.3 points per game, Cameron Thomas, does not play like a typical freshman. He goes full throttle and has his mind on attacking to score. He was not 100 percent on the night due to a prior ankle injury. Yet, he still managed to get to the basket scoring on floaters, using a eurostep, and drawing fouls to get to the strike where he shoots 90 percent on the season. The guard out of Oak Hill Academy is a volume shooter, who scored 17 points, grabbed four rebounds, and dished out three assists. He struggled shooting from the perimeter going 1-for-7, but due to his persistence in getting to the rim, Thomas would connect on 6-for-8 from the free throw line.
A big reason for the Razorbacks not being able to cut the deficit was because of Darius Day. He is a bruiser in the paint with a high-motor who recorded his fourth double-double on the season. Day, a 6-7, 245-pound power forward, constantly was crashing the boards by collecting nine rebounds and scoring 12 second-half points on 6-of-7 from the field. In all, he scored 18 points (8-for-10 FG) with 13 rebounds while showing how his range extends beyond the paint, nailing two 3-pointers. Point guard and playmaker Javonte Smart controlled the flow of the game while adding 13 points (4-of-13 FG) and five assisst.
At one point, Arkansas trailed by 33 points until JD Notae went on a run of his own. The redshirt junior, who is second on the team in scoring, came off the bench in the opening half to go 6-for-9 for 14 points. If you take away Notae’s first half shooting numbers, the Razorbacks would have shot a dismal 24 percent from the field. His combination of getting to the basket, even at 6-1, and being able to pull up for the 3-pointer, kept the Tigers defense honest. He finished with a team high 22 points (8-for-20 FG), five rebounds and three steals. Arkansas’ bench outscored LSU by a wide margin of 43-10.
Moses Moody, a potential NBA draft lottery pick, scored 18 points (7-for-18 FG) and pulled in six rebounds. He has a quick second bounce to tip the ball in, even after his own miss. Five out of his six rebounds came on the offensive end. The 6-6 shooting guard is poised around the basket with simple head fakes to get shot blockers off balance, before finishing strong around the basket. He is an under- control freshman who can score at all three levels, though, he did struggle on the night shooting from the perimeter going 1-for-5. From the 3-point line, the Razorbacks were off the mark in the first half, shooting 28 percent (4-for-14 3FG) as a group. This was one of many factors that led Arkansas to fall behind.
LSU (9-2, 4-1) will host South Carolina (3-2, 1-0) on Saturday looking to stay within reach of the top spot in the conference standings. As for Arkansas (10-3, 2-3), the competition remains difficult when they take on Alabama (10-3, 5-0) on January 16th. Alabama currently ranks first in the Southeastern Conference.