Jarell Martin scored 16 points to lead LSU to a 71-63 victory against San Francisco in the opening-round of the NIT on Wednesday night at War Memorial Gymnasium in San Francisco.
Midway through the second half, San Francisco reduced its deficit to seven points at 52-45 on two free throws by Matt Glover. However, LSU held the Dons scoreless over the next three minutes. San Francisco missed two shots and committed a turnover. In addition, Glover was whistled for a technical foul for swinging an elbow during this stretch. Andre Stringer sank a couple of foul shots following the Glover technical. Then, Anthony Hickey and Tim Quarterman knocked down 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Quarterman's trey gave the Tigers a 61-45 lead with 8:09 left in the game. The Dons came no closer than six points the rest of the way.
KEY PERIOD IN FIRST HALF
After San Francisco scored the first basket of the game, LSU ran off nine straight points to take an early lead. Martin scored seven of those points on three field goals, including two 3-pointers. Johnny O'Bryant made a couple of free throws. The Dons went more than four minutes without scoring. San Francisco missed four shots and committed two turnovers in this period of time. The Tigers never trailed the rest of the game. LSU had a 33-30 halftime advantage.
KEY PERIOD IN SECOND HALF
San Francisco played even with LSU for the first four minutes of the second half. The Tigers then went on a little 8-2 burst to build a nine-point lead. Shavon Coleman sank two 3-pointers, while Jordan Mickey made a field goal. San Francisco struggled on the offensive end as it missed nine of ten field goal attempts over a 3½-minute stretch.
LSU'S TOP STARTER
Martin had his best scoring night in the past six games with his 16 points - 14 in the first half. Martin was 7-of-11 from the field. The 16 points were his most since he had 20 against Texas A&M on Feb. 26. Martin grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots. The six rebounds were his most in the past five games. Martin blocked more than one shot for the first time since the first Kentucky game back in late January.
LSU'S TOP RESERVE
Stringer, who was questionable because of an injury he received in the NCAA tournament against Kentucky, chipped in with nine points in just 14 minutes. He made two of his three 3-point attempts to give him 237 for his career. Stringer is now tied with Torris Bright for the second most 3-pointers by a LSU player. Stringer had one assist which gives him 314 for his career. He is tied with Ricky Blanton for ninth place on the school's all-time list. Stringer's nine points give him 1,350 for his career. He moved into 21st place on the LSU all-time ranking. Stringer passed Clarence Ceasar and Marcus Thornton on Wednesday.
LSU'S UNSUNG HERO
Coleman made two of his three 3-pointers in the first portion of the second half to give LSU a nine-point lead. Coleman, who finished with 13 points, has scored in double figures the past three games. Coleman also grabbed six rebounds and made three steals.
The important numbers were field-goal shooting. LSU shot 46 percent from the field (25-of-54), including 36 percent on 3-pointers (8-of-22). San Francisco made 42 percent of its field goal attempts (27-of-65), including 13 percent on 3-pointers (3-of-23). Entering the game, the Dons were shooting 48 percent from the field and 37 percent on 3-pointers. San Francisco got to the foul line only ten times, making six. Meanwhile, the Tigers made 13 of their 19 free throw attempts. LSU won even though it was outrebounded 40-34 and had ten turnovers, which were two more than San Francisco's total. The Dons also had a 40-30 margin on points in the paint.
LSU went with its usual starting lineup of O'Bryant and Mickey in the post, Martin and Coleman on the wings and Hickey at point guard. . .O'Bryant had a solid game with 13 points and six rebounds. O'Bryant only took eight shots, but he was 7-of-10 at the foul line. . .Mickey came close to a double-double with eight points and eight rebounds. He was 4-of-8 from the field. Mickey failed to score at least ten points for the fifth time in the past seven games. Prior to this stretch, Mickey had not scored in double figures just three times all season. . .The Tigers won without Hickey having a big night. He was just 2-of-8 from the field, while scoring five points. Hickey missed four of his five 3-pont shots. He had three assists and three turnovers with just one steal. . .Shane Hammink came off the bench and scored four first-half points. Hammink had scored just four points since Jan. 1. . .Quarterman, who played 15 minutes, scored three points and made two steals. . .The victory was just the fourth for LSU on an opponent's floor this season. The Tigers had won games at Texas Tech, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. . .The victory was LSU's first in the NIT since winning at Iowa 12 seasons ago. The Tigers were on a three-game NIT losing streak with losses to Ball State, Oklahoma and Oregon. . .LSU is 20-13 - its first 20-win season in five years. San Francisco finished with a 21-12 record. . .The paid attendance was 3,662.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
Coach Johnny Jones
"Our guys liked a physical game like this one. It is great when the officials allow you to play. We were able to concentrate and finish at the rim. We were a little antsy in the first half and took some shots early in the clock. In the second half, we got Johnny (O'Bryant) more touches. Johnny knocked down big free throws down the stretch. Jarell Martin had a great time driving the ball. They had trouble staying in front of him."
LSU will play No. 1 seed SMU in the second round of the NIT on Monday night at 8 p.m. at Moody Coliseum in Dallas. The Mustangs (24-9) defeated Cal-Irvine 68-54 in a first-round game Wednesday. The LSU-SMU game will be broadcast on ESPN.