Guards Waters and Mays lead LSU to 71-61 win over Memphis

Guards Waters and Mays lead LSU to 71-61 win over Memphis
Skylar Mays (Source: WAFB)
Skylar Mays (Source: WAFB)
Will Wade (Source: WAFB)
Will Wade (Source: WAFB)

Information provided by LSU Sports

MEMPHIS, TN - The LSU men's basketball team used a strong four-plus minute period early in the second half to break open a tight game and then kept the host Memphis Tigers at bay to score a solid, 71-61, victory Thursday night at the Fed Ex Forum in LSU's first true road game of the season.

The win puts LSU at 9-3 entering Southeastern Conference play on Wednesday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against Kentucky. That game is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network and broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. Kentucky will have a non-conference game with Louisville on Friday and its conference opener at home against Georgia on Sunday before coming to Baton Rouge for the Wednesday contest.

The Tigers will take Friday off before returning to practice over the weekend to begin preps for the Wildcats.

Memphis, playing before its largest crowd of the season at the Forum of 9,468, fell to 9-4 entering American Athletic Conference play at Cincinnati on Sunday.

The win was the 100th career win for first-year LSU head coach Will Wade who entered the season with 91 wins after two years as head coach at Chattanooga and two years as head coach at VCU. The Tigers have won three straight games and the win came in the team's first try to get No. 100 for Coach Wade.

LSU's starting tandem of point guards – freshman Tremont Waters and sophomore Skylar Mays – combined for 32 points and 12 assists on the game as they went back-and-forth contributing to the LSU offensive output. They both also contributed on the defensive end with officially the pair being credited with five combined steals.

Waters, who already has had three double digit assist games, flirted with double figures again with eight assists with some others unable to be completed because of foul calls. Waters made 6-of-12 field goals, including three treys to go with 3-of-5 free throw shooting to finish with 18 points and four steals in 38 minutes.

Mays found his touch again from the arc, hitting 4-of-7 attempts to finish with 14 points, four assists and one steal in 30 minutes.

Brandon Sampson came off the bench for his second game back, playing 25 minutes. He hit three treys and four-of-seven from the field for 12 points.

LSU, which entered the game second in the nation in field goal shooting inside the arc, made its mark this time as well at the three-point arc, hitting 13-of-26 trey attempts for 50 percent. That more than made up for LSU's struggles for the second time in three games at the stripe, making just 8-of-16, including just 5-of-12 in the second half. For the game, LSU was 25-of-54 from the field for 46.3% overall.

The Tigers turned the ball over 13 turns and forced 16 turnovers, but LSU had a 22-12 advantage in points off turnovers. Memphis had the advantage in the paint, 34-24.

Kyvon Davenport led Memphis with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Jeremiah Martin had 13 points, six assists and three steals.

The teams played an entertaining first half in which Memphis had slight control of as but teams were able to make plays at the goal.

LSU had to make plays to tie the first half at 3, 5, 8 and 10 before Memphis moved out to a 15-10 advantage on five straight points. LSU would eventually tie the game at 19-19 for the game's fifth tie on a Waters trey and then the teams traded first buckets and then free throws to tie the game at 21 and 23.

The Tigers of Memphis had their crowd roaring approval after building a seven-point advantage at 33-26 with 5:07 to go in the opening half a Memphis went on a 10-3 run. But Lsu would score the next eight points on a layup by Duop Reath, a three-pointer by Darryl Edwards and a three from up top by Aaron Epps that gave LSU its first lead of the game at 2:44 left in the first 20 minutes.

Memphis would get a free throw to tie the game and after a layup by Wayde Sims, Memphis got a bucket at the halftime buzzer to leave things tied for the ninth time at 36-36.

The first three minutes of the second half continued in the same vein as Memphis got two three point leads, but the game turned after a Davenport three with 16:44 left that gave Memphis a 43-40 advantage.

Memphis would go scoreless over the next 4:27 as Mays hit two free throws and back-to-back three pointers. Sampson would put a layup in and Waters would get a fast break layup off a Sims steal to make the LSU lead 52-43 before Memphis would score again on a layup at the 12:17 mark.

The LSU Tigers were in control at that point and getting stops on one end and, despite the free throw difficulties, enough good offensive possessions to keep Memphis from feeling like they could come all the way back. Memphis got to within six, 59-53, at the 8:58 mark, but LSU pushed the lead back to 11, 65-54, at the 6:23 mark on a Reath layup.

The home team made one final run to cut it to seven with 4:56 left, but a tip-in by Sims of his own miss and a three by Sampson at the 3:32 mark pushed the game back to 11 and LSU fans in the building were ready to celebrate the end of a nine-game road arena losing streak.

While LSU was shooting 50 percent overall in the second half (12-24) and 6-12 from the arc, Memphis was held to just 8-of-28 shooting or 28.6 percent and a dismal 1-of-13 from the arc in the second half (7.7%).

Reath and Epps each had six rebounds and Epps had three blocks before fouling out after 20 minutes. LSU was outrebounded by four, 37-33, and 15-10 on the offensive boards. Sims was LSU's leading rebounder with seven, four offensive. He scored eight points in 27 minutes off the bench.