BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) -
It doesn’t take more than a few dazzling put-back dunks to see LSU’s talent up and down the lineup, but they’ve proven that there’s still some growing to do, which is to be expected with a lot of youth.
Even a more battle-tested veteran like Tremont Waters, who’s often as clutch as they come, showed that he’s not immune to a mistake every now and then. His teammates and coach defended his ill-advised alley-oop attempt turned turnover late in the game, but it’s a play that felt unnecessary with a one-point lead and plenty of time to run down the clock and limit Arkansas’s chances of a go-ahead bucket.
“Most plays that people might see as a crazy play are plays that we believe he can make,” says junior guard Skylar Mays. “That one didn’t go, but at the end of the game, we want the ball in Tremont’s hands. We want him to make plays for us because we know that we’re going to win that way.”
It was far from the only Tiger turnover. When you see the 21 total turnovers on the box score, it’s hard to believe they were able to erase the 18-point deficit despite that number. A few of them were certainly uncharacteristic and maybe a result of the atmosphere. The adrenaline pumping from a sold-out PMAC was infections and seemed to speed LSU into some mistakes at times. Head coach Will Wade admits that it might’ve been worth it to settle his team down in the final minute.
“I probably should have called timeout and gotten us into a bit of a set there,” says Wade. “But Tremont makes great plays, and nine times out of 10, he’s going to make the right play for us. We trust him. He’s our point guard.”
But again, it wasn’t all bad for the Tigers. Their supreme athleticism and ability to dominate the boards will continue to pay dividends down the road and result in better days. The loss to Arkansas should serve as a teaching moment, even though Will Wade would much rather prefer those moments come after wins instead. But as Naz Reid put it, they’ll learn to play hard from the opening tip and not just when they fall behind by double-digits.