Despite all the hullabaloo around them, the LSU Tigers did what was asked of them on Thursday afternoon. Playing in Jacksonville against the Yale Bulldogs, the 3-seeded Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 79-74 to advance through the Round of 64 and to Saturday’s Round of 32.
LSU jumped out to a big lead from the onset. They led 9-0 and 11-2 within the first few minutes of the game, flexing their muscles on the Ivy League Champions. Yale showed some fight, but LSU was able to distance themselves later and went into the break with a 45-29 halftime lead.
Yale wasn’t done fighting however. Despite going down by as many as 18 points, they were intent on trying to close the gap. They got to as close as three points from their adversaries. However, LSU just kept on knocking down free throws to keep Yale at bay. In the end, the deficit was just too big to surmount, and now the Bulldogs will head home while the Tigers will keep on dancing.
LSU’s first NCAA Tournament win in 10 years came thanks to a well-balanced effort on the score sheet. Four players got into double figures and six got at least eight points on the afternoon. The Tigers were led by Skylar Mays, who scored a team-high 19 points against the Bulldogs. Tremont Waters followed closely with 15 points and Naz Reid scored 14. Kavell Bigby-Williams was the fourth double figure scorer, as the former Oregon Ducks big man dropped 10 points on the afternoon.
Ja’Vonte Smart contributed nine points while Emmitt Williams gave the Tigers eight. Leading in rebounds were Reid and Bigby-Williams, who each pulled down 10, giving each of them a double-double. Waters, meanwhile, led in assists with seven.
Alex Copeland of Yale led the game in scoring with 24 points on the day. Jordan Bruner (16) and Azar Swain (12) joined him in double figures. Miye Oni, Yale’s best player, got stymied and was held to just five points on a 2-for-16 day from the floor.