LSU defeats UMBC

LSU senior guard Skylar Mays (4) drives to the basket during the Tigers' 77-50 victory over UMBC on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, in the PMAC.

The LSU basketball team (3-1) picked up its third win of the season on Tuesday in dominant fashion, defeating UMBC 77-50 after overcoming a slow start offensively.

Junior guard Charles Manning Jr. shined for the Tigers, leading the team in scoring with 16 points. Forwards, freshman Trendon Watford and sophomore Darius Days, recorded double-doubles.

LSU came into Tuesday’s matchup leading the nation in turnovers per game following a 25-turnover performance against Nicholls State. The team took care of the ball better against UMBC, committing just six turnovers in the first half.

“Obviously in the last two games we turned it over at a high rate, so tonight was progress,” Watford said. “We cut it from 25 to 15, but some of them were just unfortunate plays like charges and things like that. We have to keep cleaning that up and move forward and we will feel pretty good.”

Up next for LSU is a showdown with No. 15 Utah State to open up the Jamaica Classic this weekend. Coach Will Wade knows how big of a challenge this is with the Aggies off to a 5-0 start to the season.

Utah State ranks top-50 in the nation in both points per game and field goal percentage. They are one of the best passing teams in the country, falling into the top 10 in assists so far this season.

“They’re so good offensively,” Wade said. “They give me a headache thinking about them. They are going to try to wear us out with how hard they cut, how hard they move, their pace. They are well, well coached and they’ve got really, really good players.”

Scoring-wise, this is about as even as matchups get. Both teams average at least 80 points per game and each have five players averaging double figures in scoring. Senior guard Skylar Mays has led the way for LSU on both ends of the court. He has stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points per game to go along with 6.8 rebounds per game, three assists per game, and 2.5 steals per game.

Utah State is also among the best defensive teams in the nation, allowing the 10th-fewest points per game to opponents this season, including a game in which they only surrendered 34 points to Weber State. With an average margin of victory of 32.6 points, this will be the most complete team that LSU has faced all season, and coach Wade knows it.

“They’re a team that can go to the Final Four,” Wade said. “They’re that good. They’re a top-10 team from what I’ve seen on film, so it’s going to be a big, big test for us on a neutral court.”

The Tigers take on the Aggies in Montego Bay Friday night as they look to add a massive win to their national resume.

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