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World news – LSU’s Javonte Smart is himself one of the driving forces behind Tigers’ NCAA tournament berth

INDIANAPOLIS - After waiting two years to return to the NCAA tournament, Javonte Smart is naturally as excited to be a part of it as he was back then

LSU’s Ja’Vonte Smart (1) shoots at Alabama’s Keon Ellis (Jan. ). (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Ja’Vonte Smart (1) of LSU shoots during the first half of championship game at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college basketball tournament on Sunday, March 14, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee , on Alabama’s Keon Ellis (14). (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

INDIANAPOLIS â ???? Of course, having waited two years to return to the NCAA tournament, Javonte Smart is just as excited to be a part of it as he was when he was a big-eyed freshman in 2019.

Was that year the native Baton Rouge part of a team that won the Southeastern Conference title in the regular season. The future NBA players Tremont Waters, Naz Reid and Skylar Mays led a run for the Sweet 16.

This year’s LSU team is the team from Smart, of course together with the scoring machine Cam Thomas and the veterans Darius Days and Trendon Watford.

But Smart has the keys to the bus that drove LSU to the NCAA tournament and a first-round matchup with Atlantic 10 Champion St. Bonaventure on Saturday in Bloomington, Indiana. As a 6-foot-4 Guard, Smart was a successful goalscorer for the Scotlandville High prep performance. But after averaging 11.1 and 12.5 points in his first two seasons at LSU, he has become more of a goal threat with 15.9 points per game this season.

Although Thomas is the league leader and Watford is second on the team, there are many options for Smart, at least with the blessing of coach Will Wade, to bear the burden.

« He just let me be who I am, » said Smart last week. « I like to hit the ball. He gave me the keys and control of the ship. Just put the guys in the right position and come to what I can achieve.

 » Like I said « I also like to hit the ball and be a playmaker, » he said. « Being a playmaker means being a goalscorer and making games for others. »

Smart has done this for the past two seasons done when Waters took over at the point Waters left for the NBA.

While there were some rough patches along the way, Smart has dropped an average of four assists per game since replacing Waters.

Smart has not only penetrated the drives and kickouts of his teammates, but also improved his shooting accuracy every year from 36.8% as a newbie to 41.5% a year ago to 47.0% this season.

Smart goes to the NCAA Tournament and leads the SEC in 3-point field scoring with 42.1% after being in his first at had hit slightly more than 31 and 32% from a distance during the playing times.

â € œEr ????????????????????????? ?????????????? Said Wade. « That’s what we recruited, that’s what we knew we were getting. »

While Smart’s critics say he’s not a real point guard, he’s been one of the best playmakers in the league for two seasons in a row in assist to revenue ratio.

It’s something Wade does a lot after Smart was runner-up in the league last season and sixth in one of the strongest stats for point guards this year.

Smart has scored 74 double-digit goals in his three-year career, save for two of 26 games this season, and 314 assists with 154 field goals from afar.

This season, Smart was ninth in the SEC and third in the coaching and media support in earning the Second Team All-SEC Honors. He really flourished in the SEC tournament, playing all but seven minutes of three games played in a span of 41 hours were. Smart averaged 16.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals in wins against Ole Miss and Arkansas, as well as a 1-point loss to Alabama in the final.

In a heartbreaking setback against Alabama, he had 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists while running the show in offense and defense. « He was enormous, » Wade said after the title game. He played basically every minute (Saturday versus Arkansas), almost every minute today. He’s just a warrior. « 

Smart, who hit a season high with five 3-pointers, buried two consecutive 3-pointers late in the game to enable the Tigers to score a big surprise in the end.

 » The 3-pointers, he hit the rebound, some of the big shots he hit were just amazing. « Said Wade. He’s a great, great player. He played a big game for us. … proud of him; proud, that he’s our point guard.

Wade noted that Smart’s success is due to the fact that he’s more comfortable and able to do what he does as the season progresses.

Now it’s on to NCAA tournament in which LSU won two games in 2019 before being eliminated by Michigan State in the regional semi-finals.

At the time, the Tigers relied on him to take some points off the bench while playing Waters and Mays gave some rest.

« My first year, we just had fun and his year we should have fun ben « said Smart. Not too many people get the chance to compete in an NCAA tournament. So I tell all the young people on the team to have fun.

It’s a big game, but it’s just a different game. If we go out there and have fun, we can do great things. “????

LSU’s path to the Final Four with eight seeds begins on Saturday afternoon against St. Bonaventure with nine seeds in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

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Ref: https://www.theadvocate.com

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