By BRETT MARTEL , AP Sports Writer
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Naz Reid bounced back from his least productive game this season by scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, and No. 13 LSU comfortably defeated Texas A&M 66-55 on Tuesday night.
Freshman Javonte Smart turned in a second straight productive start in place of ailing point guard Tremont Waters, scoring 17 for the Tigers (23-5, 13-2 Southeastern Conference), who led by double digits most of the way en route to their 16th victory in 18 games.
Wendell Mitchell scored 14 and Christian Mekowulu had 11 for the Aggies (12-15, 5-10), who seemed to be hitting their stride recently, having won four of five when then they arrived in Baton Rouge to take on a team sharing first place in the SEC.
Both teams shot poorly, with LSU finishing at 34.8 percent (23 of 66) and A&M at 31.7 percent (19 of 60). The result marked the fewest points LSU had scored or allowed in an SEC game this season. But the Tigers were able to use their athleticism and aggressiveness to impose their will in the paint, where they outscored the Aggies 40-22.
Kavell Bigby-Williams threw down a pair of rim-rattling, two-handed dunks in the opening minutes and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Marlon Taylor dunked four times and had goaltending called against A&M on another dunk attempt to give him 10 points. Reid’s return to form came after he missed all nine of his shots and finished with a single point on a free throw Saturday in an overtime triumph against Tennessee.
Texas A&M appeared to be threatening when Brandon Mahan soared along the baseline for a tip-in that cut LSU’s lead from a high of 20 late in the first half down to 10, at 47-37.
But Smart came back with a driving layup. Shortly afterward, Emmitt Williams rejected Josh Nebo inside, and while the crowd was boisterously cheering that play, Smart hit a 3 on other end to make it 52-37 with 10:26 left.
Smart, whose breakout, 29-point performance led LSU past Tennessee when Waters was out with an undisclosed illness, continued to assert himself against A&M with a nearly end-to-end reverse layup that gave LSU a 15-point lead inside the final nine minutes.
With one game remaining this week, LSU could make a case to climb into the top 10 before the next AP Top 25 Poll comes out on Monday.
Texas A&M: Fell to 2-5 in SEC road games this season. … In the minute of the first half, T.J. Starks hurt his right arm in a collision near the LSU basket. He was seen by trainers before being escorted to the locker room and did not return. … Zach Walker was assessed a technical foul in the first half after yelling at LSU’s Emmitt Williams during a dead ball.
LSU: Waters, who has led LSU in scoring this season with 15.7 points per game, missed his second straight game with an undisclosed illness. Unlike the previous game, when Waters was not seen with the team in the arena, he showed up near the end of warm-ups and watched from the bench before joining teammates in a pregame huddle. … This is the fourth LSU team to win at least 23 games in a season. The 1981 team won the most at 27.
Texas A&M: Hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
LSU: Visits Alabama on Saturday.