LSU defeats SE Louisiana 89-66

By BRYAN LAZARE, The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE — In its previous game against another Southland Conference opponent, LSU got off to a slow start before pulling away for a lopsided victory.

The Tigers had no such first-half letdown against Southeastern Louisiana on Friday. LSU built a comfortable advantage in the first eight minutes and proceeded to defeat the Lions 89-66.

LSU (3-1), which only had a four-point halftime lead in its 81-54 victory against New Orleans on Tuesday, delivered a dominant performance on both ends of the court in the opening 20 minutes Friday. The Tigers made 58 percent of their field goal attempts (19-of-33), while building a 49-25 halftime lead.

"Our guys did a great job, a much better job tonight, of getting off to a really good start," LSU coach Johnny Jones said. "We had a much more productive first half of basketball. Defensively, they were able to help each other rotating and were very aggressive getting to the ball and contesting shots.

"We rebounded the ball and got out on the break. At the same time, our execution on the other end of the floor was really good. We settled for 50 percent (shooting), shared the basketball and made the right plays."

LSU took charge of the game in the first eight minutes. With Jordan Mickey making four baskets, the Tigers went on an 18-2 run. Anthony Hickey's 3-pointer completed the outburst and put LSU in front 20-4 with 11:52 remaining before halftime.

Johnny O'Bryant led the way for the Tigers with 18 points and 10 rebounds as he registered the 20th double-double of his career. O'Bryant made only four field goals, but he matched his career-high with 10 foul shots.

Four other players scored in double figures for LSU. Mickey had 17 points to go along with five blocked shots. Andre Stringer finished with 12 points, all in the first half. Both Hickey and Shavon Coleman, who came off the bench, had 10 points.

Onochie Ochie was the top scorer for the Lions with 17 points. Julian Chiera added 13 points, while Joshua Filmore had 10. JaMichael Hawkins, who was averaging 18 points per game for SLU, was limited to two points. Hawkins was 0-for-6 from the field.

"We've got a team that has a chance to get better if we can find a way to become self-starters," Southeastern Louisiana coach Jim Yarbrough said. "We're inconsistent right now. The team I saw in the second half is the one I was hoping to bring here from the beginning (of the game)."

The Lions did put together a couple of good stretches - one in each half. Trailing by 20 points in the first half, Chiera and Filmore knocked down 3-pointers to leave SLU behind 35-23. Mickey made three baskets as the Tigers outscored the Lions 14-2 over the last six minutes of the opening half.

The Lions made a comeback in the first seven minutes of the second half. SLU made nine of 11 shots from the field, including 4-of-4 on 3-pointers, to cut into a 25-point deficit. A basket by Chiera capped a 16-2 run which left LSU ahead 57-47.

The Tigers finally put a stop to the Southeastern Louisiana rally when Mickey sank one of two foul shots and Bryant made a basket and two free throws to put LSU in front 62-47 with 10:53 remaining in the game.

SLU wasn't fazed by that little outburst as it answered with seven consecutive points. Two foul shots by Ochie cut the Lions' deficit to single digits at 62-54. The Tigers quickly rebuilt their advantage to 14 points on three straight baskets - two by Tim Quarterman and one by Darcy Malone.

"We didn't really take our foot off the gas in the second half," Stringer said. "Teams are going to make shots. They made five in a row. We looked up at the score and they were down by ten. They were punching and we just had to respond."

Southeastern Louisiana came no closer than 11 points over the last eight minutes. LSU expanded its lead to 20 points at 79-59 following two Coleman free throws with 4:26 remaining in the game.

"We weren't able to come all the way back and hang in there as the game went away," Yarbrough said. "But, it was a better showing. It was much more respectable than the direction it was going in the first half."

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