- Texas A&M center Tyler Davis (34) gets caught between LSU forward Duop Reath, left, and guard Randy Onwuasor (14) during an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)
By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Duop Reath turned in a second straight dominant performance around the basket and his LSU teammates didn’t let this one go to waste.
Reath scored 21, Tremont Waters added 15 points and LSU snapped a three-game skid with a 77-65 victory over Texas A&M on Tuesday night.
“I just had to be aggressive, finish through contact, go straight up, just be confident in my shot,” said Reath, who complemented several authoritative dunks with effective jump hooks from close range. “I’d like to thank my teammates, especially the point guards, for getting me the ball.”
One game after scoring 31 in a loss at Vanderbilt, Reath made 9 of 14 shots and also grabbed eight rebounds. He scored the game’s first four points and helped LSU (12-7, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) build an early double-digit lead in a wire-to-wire victory.
“He made a couple of good post moves. He got into their body and made post moves and so he’s playing really, really well right now,” LSU coach Will Wade said.
Waters also had nine assists and eight steals for LSU. His highlights included two breakaway layups he created with steals and a 3 with the shot clock winding down from about 25 feet with a little more than two minutes remaining.
“We had a hard time guarding him,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said, noting that Waters’ primary defender, Admon Gilder, recently came back from arthroscopic knee surgery. “Waters was a little bit too much for him.”
Waters’ steals accounted for nearly half of Texas A&M’s 20 turnovers, which effectively negated the Aggies’ 50-30 advantage in rebounding.
“That’s just too many turnovers to give yourself a chance to win against a team like LSU, especially here,” Kennedy said.
Aaron Epps added 12 points — including seven in the final minutes — for the Tigers, who won an SEC game at home for the first time in four tries.
Robert Williams, a Louisiana native and top NBA prospect, had 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Aggies (13-7, 2-6), who came in having won two straight, but now have lost six of eight.
The 6-foot-10 Williams soared above the rim for dunks set up either by his own offensive rebounds or by passes as he cut to the hoop. He did not have enough help, though, and LSU was able to maintain a double-digit lead for much of the game.
The Tigers led by as many as 19 when Reath dunked as he was fouled for a 3-point play that made it 50-31 with about 15 minutes to go.
LSU still led by 15 with five minutes left.
Williams tried to help the Aggies summon a late surge, but they never got closer than 10.
Tyler Davis finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for Texas A&M, and Jay Jay Chandler added 10 points.
The Tigers opened the game on a 15-4 run that included Reath’s 3-pointer and dunk. LSU led by as many as 17 in the first half when Waters’ free throws made it 41-24.
Williams’ jumper trimmed it to 41-26 at halftime.
Texas A&M: The Aggies came in ranked 10th nationally in defensive field-goal percentage at 38.7, but that wasn’t the case against Reath and the Tigers, who shot 44 percent (28 of 63), including 8 of 18 from 3. Meanwhile, A&M had trouble making shots, hitting only 36 percent in the first half (10 of 27) and finishing at 39 percent (26 of 66) for the game. The Aggies missed 22 of 28 3-point shots.
LSU: Coach Will Wade has spent the past two weeks trying to coax the type of relentless, all-court and largely mistake-free effort he finally got out of the Tigers. Between Reath’s production inside and Waters’ unremitting, up-tempo craftiness on both ends of the court, LSU was able to keep the Aggies at arm’s length throughout.
“Just think about all the other ones you let slip away,” Wade began. “I mean, if we’d have played with this edge — I don’t want to think about it. It makes me sick, but I’m happy to win.”
Texas A&M: Visits No. 5 Kansas on Saturday.
LSU: Visits No. 19 Auburn on Saturday.
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