In his short time with the LSU basketball team, Tremont Waters has wowed coaches, teammates and fans with his pinpoint passing, whirling drives to the rim and silky outside shooting touch.
What you haven’t seen is Waters, who is listed at 5 feet, 11 inches, block a shot.
Not until Wednesday night, that is, when LSU’s game against Houston went down to the wire in a rocking Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Waters skied and blocked a potential game-tying 3-point shot with 6 seconds to play by Lafayette native Corey Davis, who had already buried six shots from beyond the arc in his homecoming, to help LSU to a thrilling 80-77 win.
After turning the ball over while his team was nursing a three-point cushion with 24 seconds left, Waters came up with the defensive gem on the 6-2 Davis before a last-gasp 3-point try by Houston’s Devin Davis at the buzzer missed.
“I had just turned the ball over, which was a heart-crushing moment, and I had to brush it off,” said Waters, who had 17 points and six assists in the huge win. “I knew I had to make up for it.
“Ten seconds left, I knew when he caught the ball he was going to shoot it,” Waters added. “That was all he did all game. The last play, he caught it and I knew he was going to shoot. So I had to contest the shot, and I blocked it.”
Waters got plenty of help earlier.
Forward Aaron Epps posted career highs in points and rebounds and was a catalyst on both ends for LSU (6-2) with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Guard Skylar Mays added 18 points — 14 in the decisive second half — and had nine rebounds.
Corey Davis finished the night with 20 points to match the 20 points of fellow guard Rob Gray, who is the American Athletic Conference’s leading scorer at 21.6 points a game. Devin Davis added 15 points for Houston (8-2), which had its seven-game winning streak snapped.
Epps split his 16 rebounds evenly between the offensive and defensive ends as LSU outrebounded the visitors 38-33 in what Tigers coach Will Wade thought would be one of the keys to the game.
Houston was averaging 39.9 rebounds per game in outrebounding each of their first nine opponents, but came up short Wednesday night.
Mays came up big in the decisive second half after LSU trailed 38-37 at halftime.
He scored four of his team’s first six points after intermission to give the Tigers a one-point lead and kept the pressure on.
Mays was more aggressive and active in attacking Houston’s 2-3 zone defense and had 14 points in the second half, while Epps, who knocked down 12 points in the first five minutes of the contest, had 12 after halftime.
Epps easily topped his old career highs of 17 and 13 as the Tigers took the Cougars to the wire while the crowd roared its approval.
Epps topped his old career high in both categories by the 2:54 mark of the second half, helping his team to a 76-70 lead after LSU trailed 62-61 just four minutes earlier.
Davis, who was recruited by LSU this spring before choosing Houston, hit six 3-point baskets in 10 attempts as a large group of family and friends cheered him on.
But Waters made the play that sealed the win.
“Once you saw him flying out there, you knew we had a chance to get that thing,” Wade said. “He’s a competitor now. He’s one of those guys, he turned it over on one end and he knew he had to make something happen for us to win. He was going to make it happen.”