LSU and Akron both earned decisive victories in their opening games in the Cayman Islands Classic on Monday in George Town, Cayman Islands.
They figure to have a more competitive contest when they face off in the semifinals of the three-day tournament on Tuesday afternoon.
The Tigers (4-0) took a 27-point halftime lead against Illinois State and coasted to a 77-61 win despite a sloppy second half in the opener. The Zips (3-1) defeated Western Kentucky 72-53.
“IT was an awesome first 20 minutes,” LSU coach Matt McMahon said. “We looked like a fundamentally-sound offensive team in the first half that shared the basketball and moved it well.”
Forward KJ Williams entered the game averaging 11.7 points a game but scored 12 in the first 15 minutes. He added the Tigers’ final 10 points of the first half, nine of their first 10 in the second and finished with 33.
LSU committed 13 turnovers after halftime.
“The second half was a little ragged, but in the first half I thought our guys were really locked in,” McMahon said. “We had a laser focus at the defensive end.”
Akron had pretty good defensive focus, too. It limited the Hilltoppers to 37 percent shooting from the floor (10 of 27), including 3 of 10 on 3-pointers.
Akron coach John Groce said he’s hoping that playing three games in less than 72 hours away from home will help build team chemistry and give him an opportunity to figure out who he can count on so he can expand his rotation.
“I think when you play three games in three days and you’re together for six days, I’m hoping that’ll give us some even better chemistry on the court in terms of connection,” Groce said. “Knowing where guys are going to be, play more games together against quality opponents, that that will bring us together even more on the court.”
–Field Level Media