BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU coach Will Wade instructed his team to deliver the ball inside to 6-foot-11 power forward Duop Reath as early and often as possible. As Saturday's game against reeling Mississippi progressed, it became evident why Wade thought Reath represented the Tigers' best scoring threat against the Rebels.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU coach Will Wade instructed his team to deliver the ball inside to 6-foot-11 power forward Duop Reath as early and often as possible.
As Saturday's game against reeling Mississippi progressed, it became evident why Wade thought Reath represented the Tigers' best scoring threat against the Rebels.
Reath scored 26 points, Skylar Mays added 17 points and LSU convincingly overcame a blown double-digit lead for an 82-66 victory.
Wade wasn't entirely pleased, however. The often intense, animated coach struggled to forgive a several-minute stretch when his players went away from Reath and briefly lost the lead.
"He was dominating," Wade said. "Then we decided not to throw the ball into him because we don't like to win, or we don't like leads," Wade said. "I don't understand why, but you're supposed to throw the ball inside."
Reath, who made 10 of 12 shots, said he "was just in rhythm." He also went 5 of 6 on free throws.
"We had no answer all night, obviously, for Reath," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "Whenever he caught it in the post, he scored. We were trying to limit his post touches, but he was efficient. ... He played right over the top of us."
Aaron Epps had 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, and Tremont Waters added 11 points and eight assists for the Tigers (14-10, 5-7 Southeastern Conference).
Bruce Stevens and Deandre Burnett each scored 16 and Breein Tyree scored 10 for Ole Miss (11-14, 4-8), which has lost five straight and eight of nine.
After squandering a lead as large as 14 in the first half, the Tigers led by 10 or more for the final 12 minutes and by as many as 20 points twice in the final seven minutes.
"We did win an SEC game by 16 points so I guess that's a good day," Wade said.
Epps' soaring right-hand dunk over Tyree began a 15-4 run that restored LSU's double-digit lead in the second half. Mays hit a fast-break layup as he was fouled during the run. Soon after, he converted a steal into a breakaway dunk to give LSU a 15-point lead at 61-46.
The game was never close after that.
Mississippi: The Rebels had some encouraging spurts but were not consistent enough to win on the road against an LSU team that can score a lot of points. As their deficit grew in the second half, they tried to get back into the game from long range, which only made matters worse. Ole Miss finished 6 of 29 from 3-point range, and was outscored 44-22 in the paint.
LSU: LSU shot at least 50 percent for the ninth time this season, winning each time. Reath, who even made his only 3-point attempt, was largely responsible for that. Mays and Epps each went 5 for 9 from the field with a few dunks each. "We shot it close to the rim tonight," Wade said. "For the most part we finished pretty well down there. We'd certainly like to shoot over 50 percent these next six games. That would increase our odds."
Epps dunked for the first two baskets of the game as LSU raced to an 8-0 lead.
Reath started 7 of 8, scoring 16 points in the game's first 13 minutes, capped by his 3-pointer that gave LSU a 27-16 lead.
Mays' free throw made it 31-17 with six minutes left in the half, but Ole Miss wasn't ready to fold yet.
Justas Furmanavicius' 3 marked the start or a 20-3 Rebels run. Burnett also hit a 3 during the run and Furmanavicius' jumper gave Mississippi its first lead at 35-34 with 1:27 to go in the half.
After Terence Davis' jumper put Ole Miss up by three, Waters hit a straight-on 3 to tie it at 37 heading into halftime.
Mississippi: Hosts Arkansas on Tuesday night.
LSU: Visit Alabama on Tuesday night.