It was Aaron Epps’ night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Wednesday night.
The senior forward had career highs with 26 points and 16 rebounds as he led the Tigers to a 80-77 win over Houston. Epps did the offensive work but it was Tremont Waters who came up with a huge stop to preserve the victory.
LSU (6-2) led by three with 25 seconds left when Waters turned the ball over giving Houston (8-2) a chance to tie. The Cougars worked the ball around the perimeter and got the ball to guard Corey Davis, a Lafayette native.
Davis had hit six 3-pointers in the game and launched his 10th attempt of the night but Waters, generously listed at 5-foot-11, blocked the 6-2 Davis’ shot. Houston scrambled to get the rebound and a last-second heave missed to give LSU the victory.
After the teams traded buckets and the lead early in the second half, LSU used a 10-0 run to take a 55-49 lead capped off by Skylar Mays crossing over a defender and finishing at the goal with a layup.
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson called a timeout to gather his players with 12:20 remaining once the Cougars got the ball back down the floor.
The Cougars briefly took the lead at 62-61 on a jumper by Devin Davis but Tremont Waters quickly answered with a 3-pointer and LSU never trailed again.
LSU jumped out to a 16-5 lead early as Tremont Waters and Aaron Epps led the way. The pair combined to score 20 of LSU’s first 22 points.
The Tigers took a 35-32 lead on a jumper by Duop Reath with 6:44 remaining but didn’t hit a field goal the rest of the half with the only other points before halftime coming on a pair of free throws by Epps with 1:21 to go.
But the Tigers defense stepped up and Houston only led 38-37 at the break.
EPPS VS. HOUSTON: Epps has had success playing Houston in his career and Wednesday night wasn’t any different as he finished with career highs in points and rebounds.
During his sophomore season, when LSU lost at Houston 105-98 in overtime, Epps has 12 points, two rebounds and a block in 28 minutes. Last season in an 84-65 LSU win, Epps had 11 points and seven rebounds.
SECOND HALF MAYS: Skylar Mays had four points and five rebounds but dominated in the second half as he finished with 18 points and a career-high nine rebounds.
HOMECOMING OF SORTS: Davis is from Lafayette and joined the Cougars this season after playing two years of junior college ball at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas which is just outside Houston.
Davis finished 6-of-10 from the floor – all 3-pointers – on his way to a new career high of 20 points. He and Rob Gray led the Tigers in scoring.
UP NEXT: LSU returns to the PMAC on Saturday with a noon tipoff scheduled against Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks are 9-1 and have defeated Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech already this season. The Jacks’ only loss came to Mississippi State, 80-75.