LSU rolls past Mississippi State, 80-68
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Charles Carmouche hit five 3-pointers on his way to a season-high 21 points, and the Tigers won for the fifth time in six games while handing Mississippi State its 10th straight loss, 80-68, on Saturday.
Carmouche was one of five players to score in double digits for the Tigers (15-8, 6-6 Southeastern Conference), who shot 54.5 percent (30 of 55) and led by as many as 20 points several times in the second half.
Andrew Del Piero scored a career-high 13 points, while Anthony Hickey, Johnny O'Bryant III and Andre Stringer each scored 10. O'Bryant also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Freshman guard Craig Sword scored a season-high 24 points for the Bulldogs (7-17, 2-10), who shot 46.4 percent (26 of 56) but were hurt by 4-of-17 shooting from 3-point range. Colin Borchert added 11 points and Gavin Ware 10.
The Bulldogs, who never led, outscored LSU inside, 34-24, but the Tigers shot 12 of 24 from 3-point range. LSU also outrebounded Mississippi State 36-24.
After climbing back to .500 in the SEC, the Tigers' confidence is surging heading into their final six league games. Of LSU's six losses in the conference, three have been by five or fewer points.
Stringer had 10 points in the opening half and O'Bryant made his first four shots for eight points in the first 10 minutes, but the Bulldogs were able to stay right with the Tigers for most of the period. The game was tied three times, the last when time at 25 on Ware's layup with 6:22 left.
The Tigers then took the lead for good with consecutive baskets on Carmouche's mid-range jumper and Del Piero's basket inside, which turned out to be the beginning of a 16-3 run to close out the period.
Jalen Courtney added a transition layup on a heady feed from Malik Morgan during the spurt, Stringer hit a transition jumper from the left wing and Hickey hit a 3 that rolled around the rim before going down, putting the Tigers ahead 38-26 and prompting Mississippi State to call timeout.
Ware's dunk briefly interrupted the surge, but Stringer responded with yet another 3 that rolled around and in, putting LSU up 41-28 at halftime.
BRETT MARTEL,AP Sports Writer