COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS – Wednesday night it was a three-pointer in the final seconds that LSU freshman Tremont Waters was looking for to tie Kentucky. It didn’t happen.
Saturday, Waters closed out a wild final 12 seconds with two long-range three-pointers, the last in the final second that gave LSU an amazing 69-68 triumph over No. 11 Texas A&M before a stunned crowd of close to 11,000 at Reed Arena.
The last time LSU was able to beat a team ranked higher in a true road game was on Jan. 14, 1992 when LSU beat No. 9 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
The final seconds showed the stuff that earlier earned Waters three appearances on SportsCenter Plays of the Day already this season. Down 68-63 after Tyler Davis hit a jump shot with 19 seconds to play, Waters came down and hit a long-range 30-foot three that cut it to 68-66 with 12 seconds left.
LSU called timeout and on the ensuing inbounds, fouled Davis who was a 66 percent free throw shooter for the year. He missed both free throws and Aaron Epps got the rebound and according to Coach Will Wade in postgame, the Tigers had a play already called but it was taking too long to get through traffic to run it and Coach Wade called timeout with three seconds to play to set up a new plan.
Brandon Sampson inbounded the ball to Waters past the 28-foot line on the side of the LSU bench. He took one dribble and got a semi-leading line shot up over TJ Starks and a closing Tonny Trocha-Morales, who had guarded the inbounds pass. Waters watch as the shot rattled home, sending the LSU bench and a large group of fans into a frenzy, to give the Tigers a 69-68 lead with 0.3 showing on the clock. The officials reviewed the time and added four-tenths to give the Aggies 0.7 to play with.
Trocha-Morales tried a full-court pass to Davis who caught the ball on the left side of the lane but his turn and throw shot drew nothing as the horn sounded giving LSU its second consecutive win on a team’s home court this season and LSU’s first win on the road in the SEC since the first road game a year ago at Missouri.
Waters first three-pointer was reminiscent of the 30-footer that guard Darrel Mitchell made against the Aggies in the final 10 seconds of the NCAA Tournament game in Jacksonville in March 2006 that sent LSU to the Sweet 16 and a journey that would eventually reach the national semifinals.
LSU is now 10-4 and 1-1 in the SEC, while A&M is now 11-4 and 0-3 in the league. LSU travels to Arkansas on Wednesday (8 p.m., SEC Network and LSU Sports Radio Network). LSU is now 1-2 on the season against nationally-ranked AP teams.
Waters, who struggled at times and said it wasn’t his best game, still hit 6-of-13 field goals, including 5-of-9 treys and all four free throws to finish with 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal in 36 minutes.
Both Skyler Mays and Aaron Epps had 11 points apiece with Epps getting eight rebounds and Mays six assists. Duop Reath had nine points and 10 rebounds.
A&M got 19 points and 12 rebounds from Davis, while Trocha-Morelos had 13 points and DJ Hogg, in his first game back after a three-game A&M suspension, had 12 points.
After shooting just 35 percent from the field in a strange first half in which LSU held a 29-28 advantage, the Tigers made 12-of-26 in the second 20 minutes and 7-of-14 from distance to go with 9-of-12 from the line.
The Aggies shot just 30 percent in the first half themselves and 1-of-13 from the arc, but stayed in the game making 11-of-15 free throws. A&M was 14-of-30 in the second half and made four treys, but left points at the free throw line in the second half, making just 8-of-15.
A&M had a 30-22 advantage in the paint and a big 21-10 lead in points off turnovers. They were able to hold the lead much of the second half thanks to a 16-3 advantage in second chance points.
The first half was strange in that LSU got a 10-0 advantage in the game in the first 2:39, then A&M came back and scored the next 12 points to take a 12-10 lead at the 12:03 mark.
LSU’s start was keyed after winning the opening jump ball toss for the second time in several games and Waters hit a three 30 seconds in for a 3-0 lead. A&M missed a three and Mays got the rebound and dunked it on the other end to make it 5-0. Epps turned a steal into another bucket and then May hit a three to make it 10-0 at the 17:21 mark.
It appeared LSU might be severely hurt in the first half as A&M went to the line 15 times, making 11 in the first 20 minutes, with LSU only going to the stripe for the front end of a one-and-one. But A&M’s inability to hit a trey in the first half allowed the Tigers to stay close and survive the counter run by A&M after the LSU start.
The Tigers were able to retake the lead out to four points on three occasions before A&M tied the game at 21 and then eventually took a 26-23 advantage with 1:35 to play in the opening half. Reath hit a three to tie the game at 26 on a top of the key three. Starks hit a jumper to go up 28-26 and then Waters hit a three with 44 seconds to go in the half to give LSU the one-point advantage at the break.