FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — This time, the LSU basketball team didn’t need any last-second heroics to pull out a huge road win.
Just four days after Tremont Waters calmly shot down then No. 11 Texas A&M with two long 3-point baskets in the final 12.4 seconds in College Station, Texas, the Tigers took their act on the road again.
On Wednesday night, LSU walked into Bud Walton Arena, one of the toughest basketball venues in the Southeastern Conference, and completely dismantled an Arkansas team that was ranked 22nd in the nation just nine days earlier.
LSU (11-4, 2-1 SEC) maintained a double-digit advantage for the final 34 minutes, 9 seconds of the 40-minute contest, leading by as many as 24 points in the first half and 27 in the second, in rolling to a 75-54 win over Arkansas (11-5, 1-3).
“We prepared really well, but I never saw this coming ... honestly,” a joyous LSU coach Will Wade said. “We prepared extremely well.
“I’m so proud of our players. ... That’s as well as we’ve executed and was as disciplined as we’ve executed the plan all year long,” he said. “We executed that thing to a 'T'. We didn’t turn the ball over and we shared the ball on offense.”
With the lopsided victory, the Tigers topped their win total of last season when they went 10-21 with a 2-16 mark in conference play.
Their third consecutive win on the road, counting a 10-point beating of Memphis on Dec. 28, already gives them two more victories away from home than all of last year with half the regular season remaining.
In the aftermath of three huge victories this season, the LSU basketball team has proven over and over that it can’t stand prosperity.
Arkansas, which was 8-0 in Bud Walton Arena this season and had an 11-game winning streak at home dating to last season, was embarrassed — almost from the opening tip — and fell for the third game in a row.
The Razorbacks went into the game averaging 95.0 points at home and won those eight games by an average margin of 22.6 points.
But after Arkansas’ Adrio Bailey hit the second of two free throws for a 1-0 lead just 23 seconds into the game, LSU took over and went on a big run.
The Tigers outscored the Razorbacks 27-8 over the next 11 minutes and got the lead up to 21 when Skylar Mays nailed a 3-point basket with 5:05 to play.
At that point, Wade’s team led 32-11 as 11,818 fans watched in disbelief.
LSU led 41-21 at halftime, holding Arkansas to the fewest points by an opponent in a half this season. North Florida scored just 23 points in the first half of a 104-52 loss to the Tigers on Dec. 22.
Aaron Epps led LSU with 13 points and 11 rebounds in just 18 minutes, while Mays and Randy Onwuasor finished with 12 points each. Duop Reath added 11 points and six rebounds for the Tigers, who won the battle on the glass 38-33.
Waters finished with only eight points, but he collected a game-high eight assists as LSU spread the floor early — letting him efficiently run the show — and attacked Arkansas from all angles early and often.
“I thought Tre had total control of the game on offense,” Wade said. “We set high ball screens and spread them all the way out.”
High-scoring guard Jaylen Barford was the only double-digit scorer for Arkansas with 17 points. Backcourt mates Daryl Macon and Anton Beard were held to 9 and 2 points, respectively.
That trio combined for just 28 points after averaging a shade under 50 points per game at home this season.
Arkansas went into the contest 11th in league play in field-goal defense, with opponents hitting 46.3 percent of their shots.
It showed when LSU shot 52.7 percent from the floor overall and 55.6 percent in the first half, when the Tigers scorched the Razorbacks.
“Obviously, I thought we were a step slow to the ball,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “They spread us out and attacked us, and we just didn’t do a good enough job.”