A huge matchup was set up in Baton Rouge on Saturday that was going to have huge implications on who ends up winning the regular season title in the SEC. The LSU Tigers were set to host the Tennessee Volunteers with a chance to bounce back from their loss earlier this week at the hands of Florida and what ensued was a classic back-and-forth game.
LSU was going to be without star Tremont Waters in this one, making the task of trying to beat the fifth-ranked Volunteers that much more difficult as Ja’vonte Smart was going to step into the starting lineup for him.
Tennessee was able to jump out to a quick start after two three-pointers to take a 10-4 lead, but LSU was able to storm back and take a 20-18 lead after an Emmitt Williams free throw as the two teams continued to go back-and-forth.
The teams pretty much traded buckets until Tennessee went on a 6-0 run to end the first half, taking a 36-31 lead into the half.
The Vols were able to quickly get their lead out to nine points early in the second half, getting up 41-32 on a three-pointer by Lamonte Turner.
Tennessee was able to keep the lead at two or more possessions for much of the second half, not giving up the lead until 44 seconds left in regulation when Skylar Mays hit a pair of free-throws. Grant Williams quickly was able to tie the game back up at 71 and neither team was able to get another basket for the rest of regulation as we were sent to overtime.
Overtime saw the game be just as tight as regulation was, being tied all the way up until 0.6 seconds left when Jordan Bone slipped going up for a go-ahead three and LSU got the loose ball and Ja’vonte Smart was fouled 3/4 of the court away from the basket by Grant Williams.
Smart went on to nail both free throws, giving the Tigers and 82-80 lead and Tennessee actually got as good of a look as they could’ve hoped for given the situation but the game-tying floater fell short and LSU was able to pull out an 82-80 home win.
Ja’vonte Smart led the Tigers with 29 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, Skylar Mays was able to score 23 points and Kavell Bigby-Williams had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Tigers were not only able to pull out this win without Tremont Waters, but they only got one point from Naz Reid.
Admiral Schofield led the Volunteers with 27 points and 9 rebounds, and Grant Williams put up 18 points and 9 rebounds.