It’s been a complete turnaround for the Tigers from a season ago to now. Defensively, Coach Will Wade has this team on a string, allowing their defense to turn into offense routinely.
Saturday night against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, it was the exact same story as their first six games, handling business in a 75-61 victory against a fiery ACC opponent.
Led by Xavier Pinson and Alex Fudge, the Tigers continued to let their transition play be the focal point of their offense, winning the Emerald Coast Classic. Xavier Pinson gave Wake Forest fits all night, picking up full court and totaling a whopping eight steals. His quick hands and ability to cover the entire floor gave the Tigers easy lay-ins all forty minutes.
LSU started off slow against the Demon Deacons, drilling their first three shots followed by twelve straight misses, but settled in midway through the half. Their full-court press is what set the tone, with Pinson and Brandon Murray picking up full court early.
LSU shot an efficient 41% from the field in the first half, holding Wake Forest to 28%, but just couldn’t get their three-ball to fall early. Through the first six games, the Tigers relied on their jump shooting to keep them in games, but it was their paint presence that allowed them to defeat the Demon Deacons Saturday night.
Efton Reid took care of business inside, forcing contested shots on almost every defensive possession along with getting his offensive game in rhythm. Shooting an efficient 7-of-9 from the field, his footwork is unmatched, allowing himself to get easy lay-ins at the rim religiously.
The defensive energy for LSU has been the main takeaway this season. With Coach Will Wade electing to go with a 2-2-1 full court press to start the second half, this opened up their transition game with Pinson getting easy buckets all half.
Pinson and Eric Gaines stole the show in the second half. Getting easy buckets in the lane and getting others involved, it was effortless for the two lead guards. With help from Alex Fudge, this LSU backcourt is looking dominant through six games.
The main takeaway has been the defensive end for the Tigers. Holding the Demon Deacons to 32% from the field, it was difficult for them to get into a groove with LSU’s full court press from start to finish in the second half.
The guard play of LSU has really set the tone for this team. Playing through both Pinson and Murray, it’s opened up opportunities for Efton Reid to get his chances inside. The pick and roll has been impressive, but allowing defense to turn into offense has opened up the transition game of the Tigers.
Pinson’s eight steals may dominate the stat sheet, but the full court press of LSU gave the Demon Deacons fits, letting the entire team get easy buckets. Just unable to get into a rhythm offensively, the Deacons struggled let the Tigers capitalize off of every mistake they made.
LSU is showing signs of a complete team to kick off the season. Coach Wade wasn’t messing around when he said this team was legit defensively during his preseason press conferences. It’s what has given the Tigers success to start this season.
The Tigers will be back in action against the Ohio Bobcats on Wednesday in the PMAC, looking to continue their hot start to the 2021-22 season.