BATON ROUGE – LSU used an 18-0 run early in the first half as part of a second straight dominating first 20 minutes as LSU was able to score a 92-76 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers are now 9-2 overall and 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference while Arkansas falls to 10-3 and 2-3 in the league. LSU hosts South Carolina in the second of three straight home games on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
Arkansas had a 7-4 lead with 17:33 to play in the first half before LSU went to work showing the same offensive and defensive tenacity that allowed them to open up an 18-point halftime advantage on Saturday night in Oxford against Ole Miss.
Cameron Thomas, who played despite an ankle injury in the opening minutes of the game on Saturday, hit a jumper and on the next possession Trendon Watford gave LSU the lead for good at 8-7. After another Arkansas miss, Mwani Wilkinson hit a trey to make it 11-7. Javonte Smart added a bucket and Wilkinson a free throw to push the Tiger lead to 15-7.
Darius Days, who was perfect from the two-point range at 6-of-6, hit a three pointer and off an Arkansas turnover Smart registered more points to make it 20-7 with 12:47 to go in the first half. The 18-0 run concluded on two Watford free throws to make it 22-7 with 12:20 to go.
Desi Sills would score for Arkansas and the Tigers then proceeded to go on an 8-0 run on an Aundre Hyatt three, a Watford trey and a Josh LeBlanc Sr., dunk off a turnover and pass from Eric Gaines that made it 30-9 with still 10:35 to go in the half.
From down, 7-4, LSU outscored Arkansas 26-2 over a 6:47 period as the Tigers went on to finish the first half up 51-31. LSU led by as much as 31 entering the final six minutes of the half.
All five Tigers in the starting lineup scored in double figures with Watford and Days both getting double doubles. Watford had 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Days had 18 points and 13 rebounds. Watford was 9-of-16 from the field with a trey and 4-of-4 at the line, while Days was 8-of-10 overall and 2-of-4 from the arc.
Thomas had 17 points and three assists, while Smart had 13 points and five assists. Wilkinson finished with 11 points and six boards.
LSU shot 52.3 percent for the game (34-of-65), hitting seven threes and 17-of-24 (70.8%).
JD Notae played 25 minutes off the bench and finished with 22 points for Arkansas, while freshman Moses Moody had 18 points and Desi Sills 14. Starters Vance Jackson and Devonte Davis were holed to 2-of-19 by the LSU defense.
Arkansas shot 34.2 percent for the game (26-of-76) with eight treys and 16-of-20 at the line.
It was the ninth time LSU scored 50 or more points in the first half, the third in SEC play.
LSU had a 48-34 advantage in points in the paint and 25-21 in second chance points. Both teams scored 18 points each on points off turnovers as Arkansas forced some LSU miscues and got offensive boards and put in the final 10 minutes as the Tigers tried to remain focused on finishing the contest.
LSU vs. Arkansas
January 13, 2021
LSU Head Coach Will Wade– Postgame Quotes
“Really good win. I thought at the start of the game we were ready. We played very well. Our defense was tremendous and swarming. Exactly what we wanted. Our offense was humming as usual. Very proud of our guys. We beat Arkansas by 16, obviously we have some things to clean up. Second half we turned the ball over 12 times. We gave up 12 offensive rebounds. We lost our way a little bit. Just very proud. Mwani (Wilkinson) and (Aundre) Hyatt came out huge for us. Those threes that they hit in the first half totally changed the game. I don’t want to speak for Arkansas, but it totally changed the way that Arkansas wanted to play. Very proud of our guys. We prepared well. We were focused. This is the first time we have played well back-to-back. We are starting to hit our stride a little bit and hopefully we can keep this rolling.”
On if his attitude preparing for Arkansas influenced how his team played …
“If you ask our guys, they laugh at me. We prepare literally the exact same way for every game. It’s like Groundhog Day. We’ll do the same thing tomorrow and the day after. It’s the exact same way. I did not feel comfortable with how we played both games against Arkansas last year. We maybe have a lot more counters. We knew they were not going to let (Trendon) Watford catch it on the elbow so we had to circle and do some different things. We were very, very prepared offensively to counter some of the stuff that they were going to do defensively. We prepared for every game. Our guys did a great job in preparation with their focus. I was pleased it bled over to the court.”
On the three-quarter pressure early …
“We are starting to get good at the two-two-one and dropping back and matching up out of it and getting into what we are doing. We are starting to get pretty good at that. It’s effective. It wastes time. it’s something that you have to prepare for. Our guys are good. We do it a little bit differently, putting the big guys up top, which creates some length. Mwani (Wilkinson) and (Trendon) Watford, we put (Josh) LeBlanc up there. It is tough to get around. The two-two-one has certainly been good to us in the last couple of games. We can mix it up in the one. It’s good. We have an even front, even with the two-two-one. Odd with the one. It’s been good for us.”
LSU Player Quotes
Forward Darius Days
On all five starters scoring double figures and offense clicking…
“It was really fun out there, everyone was eating. When we do that we go on great runs. We have great defense. When we get out and running in transition, everyone out there is happy. (Eric) Gaines had a great drunk in the second half. The effort was just phenomenal.”
On large run in first half
“Defense and energy, everyone was having fun. The bench was crazy. Guys were yelling and screaming. Other guys made great plays and everyone had great energy for everybody and that’s what it takes for us to win and have great energy.
Guard Cameron Thomas
On injury and when he knew he would play...
“I felt I was going to go, when I was warming up. My ankle still far from 100% but I felt I needed to be out there for my team, making a difference. Just fight through the pain and keep moving on.”
On playing with big lead…
“I mean it’s a good thing, we all were locked in and playing defense. We played really good defense in the first half. We turned them over, scoring in transition. I felt we had a great first half. It’s a good thing for our team and our team confidence, to defend like that. Makes us scary.
Forward Trendon Watford
On first-half defense and communication and second half possible lost concentration…
“I think we started the game great, that’s been one of our things. You know we just try to start the game with energy in the building. We tried to come out with energy and lock in on defense. That’s one of the main things we’ve bene working on. That’s what’s going to sperate us at the end. We know we all can score the ball, five starters in double figures. I think we can definitely get better and put it together all 40 minutes. I think overall we did a good job defensively.”
On getting up big and remaining focused...
“We knew they were going to make a run, just like we did. We wanted to keep fighting and punching back. We knew they would eventually start making shots like they did in the second half. We wanted to stay together and keep doing what we were doing. Personally, I feel like once we clean the turnovers up, the sky’s the limit for us. I think we’re doing a pretty good job, every day we just improving.”
Arkansas Head Coach Eric Musselman– Postgame Quotes
On if he expected LSU to come out strong…
“No. I just think that, as a team, we played so well against Georgia. You have to understand, as a young student athlete, that the next game is a completely different game, so there’s no carryover. Look, we have guys that are defenders and rebounders at their position; they went out and tried to score. It’s hard to win when you have a guy go 1-of-8 and a guy go 1-of-11. It was the same story as when we played, Missouri. If your shots aren’t falling, you have to have better shot selection.”
On LSU’s defense…
“You’ve got to give LSU credit for sure. It was a totally different defense than we faced with Missouri. Again, when you have guys combined for 2-of-20. I don’t see anybody on their stat sheet that that shot the ball that poorly. And quite frankly, our defense was just as bad. It wasn’t just offensively.”
(Press Release Provided by LSU Athletics)