Jarell Martin, who lost his starting job, scored a season-high 18 points to lead LSU to a 71-68 victory against South Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.
Two foul shots by Brenton Williams with 12:55 remaining in the game tied the score at 42-42. Over the next seven minutes, the Tigers outscored the Gamecocks 22-8 to take control of the game. During that stretch, LSU made nine of its 11 field goal attempts, including five in a row at the start of the run. The first ten points in this span were scored by Jordan Mickey and Johnny O'Bryant. Mickey had three field goals, while O'Bryant made two baskets. There were three 3-pointers - two by Andre Stringer and one by Tim Quarterman. O'Bryant chipped in with another field goal. Martin made one of two foul shots to put the Tigers on top 64-50 with 5:45 remaining in the game. During this time, South Carolina was 1-of-7 from the field and made three turnovers.
KEY PERIOD IN FIRST HALF
The game was close throughout the first half. A basket by Williams put South Carolina ahead 25-24 with 3:39 left before halftime. The Tigers then scored on four consecutive possessions to go on top 32-25. Malik Morgan made a field goal after an offensive rebound. Mickey made a basket, while Martin converted a three-point play. Stringer completed the little outburst with two foul shots. South Carolina did score the last five points of the half on two free throws and a 3-pointer by Tyrone Johnson to cut its deficit to two points at the break.
KEY PERIOD IN SECOND HALF
LSU had problems closing out the game. Stringer's 3-pointer with 6:03 remaining in the game was the Tigers' final field goal. LSU missed its last seven field goal attempts and committed three turnovers in the last six minutes. In addition, the Tigers were just 7-of-13 at the foul line down the stretch. Morgan was the biggest culprit as he went 2-of-5. Anthony Hickey was 2-of-4, while O'Bryant was 3-of-4. The Gamecocks went on a 9-0 run to pull within five points at 64-59 with 2:11 to go when Sindarius Thornwell made a basket. About a minute later, South Carolina had a chance to reduce its deficit to three points, but Johnson missed a shot. Hickey followed with two free throws. With 25 seconds remaining, the Gamecocks had another opportunity to make it a one-possession game, but Johnson made only one of two foul shots. Morgan clinched the victory my making two free throws in the last few seconds.
LSU'S TOP STARTER
Mickey was his normal consistent self with 13 points in 27 minutes. Mickey was 6-of-10 from the field. He has made at least 50 percent of his field goal attempts in 11 of 14 games this season. In his last four games, Mickey is 31-of-49 (63 percent) from the field. Mickey also contributed four rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal. Mickey has blocked a shot in every game but one (St. Joseph's).
LSU'S TOP RESERVE
Martin responded very well to his benching as he scored a season-best 18 points. He was 5-of-6 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line. The five field goals matched his season-high, while the seven made foul shots were a season-best. Martin made five field goals against Butler and UAB. Martin also grabbed six rebounds - his third highest total of the season. He also made five steals, which equaled his season total prior to Saturday's game.
LSU'S UNSUNG HERO
Despite turning the ball over six times for the day, O'Bryant made three crucial baskets during LSU's game-deciding run in the second half. O'Bryant, who was 4-of-9 from the field and 5-of-10 from the foul line, had 13 points. He grabbed seven rebounds and matched his season-high in assists with three. O'Bryant is now tied with Jim Crisco for No. 29 on the school's all-time rebounding list. O'Bryant, who has 544 rebounds, moved past Danny Hester and Bill Wilson on Saturday.
Both LSU and South Carolina committed 19 turnovers. However, the Tigers were able to get six more points off the turnovers than the Gamecocks (19-13). Led by Martin with five, LSU had 14 steals - its second highest total of the season. The Tigers had a 42-32 rebounding margin after losing the battle of the boards by 12 in their last two games. LSU held South Carolina to 42 percent field goal shooting (20-of-48). For the first time this season, the Tigers won a game when they shot worse than their opponent. LSU made 39 percent of its field goal attempts (22-of-56). The Tigers won even though they missed 13 of their 35 foul shots. The Gamecocks were not much better as they missed 10 of their 34 free throw attempts.
Coach Johnny Jones shook up the starting lineup as he indicated. Morgan and Shavon Coleman were the starting wings instead of Stringer and Martin. The benching paid off as Stringer and Martin combined for 27 points. Morgan and Coleman, who combined for LSU's first nine points, ended with a combined total of 13 points. . .Coleman made a 3-pointer on the first possession, but missed his next five field goal attempts. Coleman matched his season-high with six rebounds. He also had two steals. . .Morgan had a solid overall game with eight points, six rebounds and a season-high four assists. He blocked two shots - equaling his career-high - and made two steals. . .Hickey had a rough shooting night as he was 0-for-6 from the field - the first time this season he didn't made a field goal. Hickey had just two assists and three steals. He has only nine assists in the past five games. . .After not scoring against Tennessee, Stringer had nine points. He was 2-of-4 on 3-pointers and 3-of-4 at the foul line. Stringer is now No. 30 on LSU's all-time scoring list with 1,123 points. He moved past the late Don Redden. . .Quarterman played just 11 minutes as a replacement for Hickey, but he did a solid job. He made a 3-pointer, grabbed a couple of rebounds and handed out two assists. . .The Tigers committed 19 turnovers with 14 of them coming from three players - O'Bryant (six), Coleman (four) and Mickey (four). . .Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 25 points. Johnson added 15 points, while Williams scored 11. . .The Tigers have now won three of their last four games against South Carolina. All three victories have come in Columbia. . .LSU ended a two-game losing streak - its longest since the Tigers dropped their first four SEC games last season. . .LSU is 10-4 overall, 1-1 in the SEC. South Carolina is 7-8 overall, 2-2 in the SEC. Four teams have won their first two league games - Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas A&M. . .The paid attendance was 12,071.
FROM THE LOCKERROOM
Coach Johnny Jones
"It wasn't too much the players had to do different. They just had to understand how important it was. Shots didn't go, but we were able to make it up on the other end of the floor with hustle and getting stops when we needed them."
"I'm really proud of the two freshmen (Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin). Both of them played extremely well. Jordan played as he's played all season - being steady. Jarell did an excellent job coming off the bench. He played really relaxed. He knocked down shots and free throws. He defended extremely well to give us an opportunity to get out of here with a win."
"We did a great job of spreading the floor and getting angles to the basket. Unfortunately, we didn't knock the free throws down and we didn't knock some of the shots down as we shot only 30-something from the field."
"Coach (Jones) said that he wanted to try something new (with the lineup). I was with it. I am for whatever is best for the team. Coming off the bench, I felt real relaxed. As the game was going on, I get really comfortable with everything. I started knocking down shots and getting to the free throw line."
"I just had to slow down in the second half. I was playing a little too fast. I had a few turnovers that were kind of careless. I just had to slow down and play my game."
LSU will play Ole Miss at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The Rebels (10-5, 1-1) lost at Mississippi State 76-72 on Saturday. The LSU-Ole Miss game will be broadcast on CSS/CST.