LSU defeating Tennessee in overtime 82-80 without star point guard Tremont Waters is impressive enough, but paired with Naz Reid’s single point contribution-a perfect scenario for freshman Javonte Smart to lead the Tigers to victory was born.
Shortly before the game news broke that Waters would not be joining the rest of the team on the court, leaving a hole in the Tigers' play, which tends to come down to the line. Naz Reid, another leading scorer did not make any shots until a free throw in the last 35 seconds and found himself in foul trouble early.
"We knew that we'd have to be a lot more aggressive," Skylar Mays said. "and try to emulate what he does as much as possible, and it worked out really well."
"When you don't have Tremont, there's a little bit narrower path to win," head coach Will Wade said. "And our guys executed well, we were able to navigate that path."
Smart, a Baton Rouge native, brought the ball down for the Tigers 44 minutes of the game and led LSU’s scoring with 29 points.
"Javonte was phenomenal," Wade said. "I told somebody before the game, he said, 'What's it gonna look like?' I said, 'It probably won't be as aesthetically pleasing, but he's gonna get the job done.'"
Other players contributed more for the win, Junior guard Marshall Graves saw playing time and scored a three, while Skylar Mays did not come out of the game once.
"And how 'bout Marshall?" Wade said. "Marshall comes in and hits a three, that's what he does."
The Tigers face Texas A &M on Tuesday as they are now three weeks out from the SEC tournament.