James Daniel III scored 17 points off the bench Wednesday to continue his recent surge as No. 18 Tennessee trounced LSU 84-61 for its fourth consecutive victory.
With nine games remaining in the regular season, Tennessee (16-5, 6-3 SEC) already has matched its 2016-17 win total. Tennessee went 16-16 last year and failed to earn an NCAA Tournament or NIT bid for a third straight season.
Tennessee has won seven of its last eight games while LSU (12-9, 3-6) has lost five of its last six.
Daniel shot 5 of 7 from 3-point range and matched a season high in scoring. Tennessee shot 12 of 25 on 3-pointers as a team.
After averaging 27.1 points at Howard in 2015-16 to lead all Division I players, Daniel appeared in just two games last season due to injury and has accepted more of a complementary role this season as a Tennessee graduate transfer.
But he has heated up lately. The 6-footer scored 16 points and shot 3 of 7 from 3-point range Saturday in a 68-45 victory at Iowa State.
Grant Williams had 16 points for Tennessee despite missing much of the first half. Jordan Bone and Lamonte’ Turner added 12 points each.
Duop Reath had 21 points and Randy Onwuasor scored 10 for LSU.
LSU was playing two days after coach Will Wade announced that two reserves were suspended for one game each and two more were taking leaves of absence, leaving the Tigers with only seven available scholarship players to face Tennessee.
Guard Brandon Rachal and forward Wayde Sims were suspended for Wednesday’s game. Sims has made eight starts this season, but none in conference play. Rachal has been coming off the bench all season.
Forward Galen Alexander won’t play the rest of the season and is exploring a transfer. Forward Mayan Kiir has taken a leave of absence for the rest of the semester, but has the option of returning to the team next season.
Tennessee got a scare less than two minutes into the game when Williams landed awkwardly after attempting to get a rebound, causing the sophomore forward to walk slowly off the floor and head to the locker room.
The Vols showcased their depth by outscoring LSU 26-17 while Williams was out of the game. Tennessee led 28-21 when Williams returned to action with 7:25 left in the first half and stayed ahead the rest of the way.
LSU: Freshman Tremont Waterscontinued his recent slump by shooting 1 of 9 and scoring seven points. Waters entered the night with a team-high 15.2 points per game, but he has scored in double figures just once in his last five games. He has shot 2 of 16 over his last two games.
Tennessee: The Vols continue to showcase their depth as their reserves outscored LSU’s bench 44-8. Tennessee has outscored its last four opponents 134-48 in bench scoring.
Tennessee hosts Mississippi on Saturday.
LSU hosts Arkansas on Saturday.