For much of the ballgame, it seemed like the LSU Tigers (3-0) were the better team against the Michigan Wolverines (3-1), a team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year. The Wolverines got back into the ballgame late, but Tremont Waters and Skylar Mays put the game in their hands after Brandon Sampson fouled out late and gave the Tigers a big 77-74 victory in the Maui Jim Invitational.
LSU got out in front early in the ballgame with some solid shooting from beyond the arc, getting out to a 13-9 lead with 12:15 left in the first half. The only negative for the Tigers in the first half was committing 11 turnovers and that was a big reason why Michigan was able to get back in the ballgame, tying things up with 13 seconds left off of a layup by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. However, Skylar Mays sent LSU into the locker room with a 31-29 lead thanks to a nice layup with two seconds left.
The second half started out almost exactly as the first half ended with Michigan tying things up before the Tigers went on a 9-4 run to get out in front 40-35. The combination of LSU being in a field goal drought and the duo of Wagner and Matthews wound up getting the Wolverines their first lead of the ballgame at around the halfway mark.
It seemed to be over once Brandon Sampson fouled out, but true freshman Waters put the team on his back late in the game with six straight points to get it within three points with 4:28 left in the ballgame. Michigan couldn’t keep up with the pace of LSU’s offense and let the Tigers tie things up in the final two minutes. Skylar Mays gave them the lead right back with a fastbreak dunk to get the crowd riled up and that wound up being the deciding factor after Matthews went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with nine seconds left.
LSU will take on 13th-ranked Notre Dame (4-0) on Tuesday in the Maui Jim semifinals with tipoff set for 9 pm.