Freshman Jarell Martin registered his first double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Johnny O'Bryant and Shavon Coleman each scored 16 points as LSU defeated McNeese State 79-52 in a non-conference game Saturday night at the PMAC.
LSU closed the first half on a 17-2 run to build a 17-point halftime advantage. Two foul shots by Kevin Hardy with 4:36 remaining brought McNeese within two points at 25-23. Back-to-back field goals by O'Bryant ignited the Tigers' outburst. O'Bryant made two more field goals during this stretch. Martin and Jordan Mickey combined for the other nine LSU points. Martin made two field goals, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer which put the Tigers on top 42-25. Mickey made four foul shots.
KEY PERIOD IN FIRST HALF
The Cowboys scored ten consecutive points after a Martin 3-pointer to take an early 10-3 lead. Sparked by Coleman, LSU came back to take the lead at 16-15 with 7:41 remaining before halftime. Coleman scored six points in a row on four free throws sandwiched around a field goal. McNeese regained the lead on a basket by Ledrick Eackles before Anthony Hickey knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Tigers the lead for good at 19-17 with 6:56 left in the opening half.
KEY PERIOD IN SECOND HALF
Three foul shots by Eackles and a field goal by Craig McFerrin left the Cowboys behind 42-30 with 17:43 remaining in the game. LSU stopped the bleeding with six straight points - two free throws by Andre Stringer, a field goal by Mickey and two foul shots by Martin. The Tigers eventually built their advantage to 20 points at 55-35 on a three-point play by Mickey with 12:45 left in the game.
LSU'S TOP STARTER
Martin had his best overall game with 14 points and a season-high ten rebounds. The 14 points were one shy of Martin's season high against St. Joseph's in the Old Spice Classic. Martin was 4-of-10 from the field and made all four of his foul shots. He also had a season-best two assists in 26 minutes.
LSU'S TOP RESERVE
No player has been more consistent recently than Coleman, who was 5-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-4 on 3-pointers. Coleman has scored in double figures in five of the nine games in which he has come off the bench. Coleman has connected on 13 of his 23 shots from behind the 3-point line in the last eight games. Coleman also contributed four rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes.
LSU'S UNSUNG HERO
O'Bryant came alive after a rather lackluster start in which he scored just two points in the first 13 minutes of the game. But, O'Bryant accounted for ten points as LSU closed the first half on a 26-8 run while building a 17-point advantage. O'Bryant added a couple of baskets to put the Tigers ahead by 19 points at 52-33 with 13:20 remaining in the game. O'Bryant grabbed five rebounds to give him 527 for his career. O'Bryant is now No. 33 on LSU's all-time list as he passed Jaime Lloreda, who had 525 rebounds.
LSU shot a season-best 82 percent (23-of-28) at the foul line. The Tigers made their first 14 free throw attempts before a miss by O'Bryant late in the first half. LSU won by 27 points for the second time this season. The Tigers beat UNO, another Southland Conference team, 81-54 on Nov. 19. The 52 points were the fewest allowed by LSU this season. McNeese made just 23 percent (14-of-62) of its field goal attempts - the worst shooting by a Tigers opponent. In LSU's current five-game winning streak, no team has shot higher than 36 percent. The Cowboys were only 3-of-21 on their 3-point attempts. The Tigers had a 28-7 edge in bench points and outrebounded McNeese 54-39. However, LSU gave up 17 offensive rebounds which led to 15 second-chance points.
LSU started the same lineup - O'Bryant and Mickey in the post, Martin and Stringer on the wings and Hickey at point guard. . .It was tough shooting night for both Stringer and Hickey, who were a combined 2-of-10 from the field. The two guards both missed three of their four 3-point attempts. Stringer had two assists, while Hickey had two assists and two steals. . .Hickey now has 273 career assists which moves him past Johnny Jones into 11th place on the school rankings. . .Stringer is now No. 15 in school assists with 258. He broke a tie with Jordy Hultberg. Stringer is now No. 32 on LSU's scoring list with 1,101 points. His seven points Saturday put him ahead of Bob Meador. . .Mickey had a solid game with 11 points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes. Mickey was a perfect 7-of-7 at the foul line. He has made 17 of 20 free throw attempts in the past five games. Mickey blocked three shots to give him 39 for the season. . .Malik Morgan and Tim Quarterman logged the most minutes of the substitutes with 18 each. Morgan had three points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. The assist and steal total matched his season-highs. Quarterman had three assists and three steals. . .Darcy Malone had four points and five rebounds in 12 minutes. He made his second trey of the season. . .Shane Hammink had a career-high five rebounds in 12 minutes. . .Walk-on Brandon Eddlestone made a field goal. He had one other basket this season. . .The Tigers shot just 39 percent from the field (24-of-62) - matching their lowest of the season against UNO. . .LSU committed 15 turnovers with Martin and Mickey each having three. . .Eackles led McNeese with 13 points and eight rebounds, while McFerrin had 12 points. Both Desharick Guidry and Hardy had ten points. . .LSU has won 12 consecutive games against Louisiana schools since a loss to Nicholls State three seasons ago. . .The Tigers are 9-2, while McNeese is 2-10. . .The paid attendance was 8,796. The actual crowd was approximately 5,100.
FROM THE LOCKERROOM
Coach Johnny Jones
"We certainly didn't get off to a great start like we would have liked. McNeese did a great job of controlling tempo in the first 10 to 12 minutes. In the last eight minutes of the first half, we caused some turnovers through our pressure and forced them to play a little faster. We finished the first half the right way. We didn't shoot it at the clip we would have liked, but we were able to hold them to 23 percent from the field. That allowed us to pull away from them."
"We weren't very patient against McNeese's zone in the first half. We didn't get the ball to the middle of the floor. We were quick-shooting it because they did a great job of controlling tempo and running the shot clock down on the defensive end. We should have tried to force their defense to shift side to side and then get the ball to the middle, but we didn't. We had been shooting around 46 or 48 percent from the field. We shot 30-something percent tonight. That's not executing at the level we should be."
"Jarell Martin did an excellent job. He opened the game by knocking down a three which we needed. McNeese had a smaller lineup and Jarell played well containing their quicker guards and staying in front of them. He made some tough plays inside."
"Shavon Coleman is off to a great start this year. He's the glue guy for us. He's that guy who does a tremendous job of bringing energy whether he starts the game or comes off the bench. Whenever he gets in the game, he really changes the complexion. He did that again by putting pressure on guys and speeding the game up. In the second half, he knocked down some big threes."
"We had to find our rhythm in the first half. We started a little slow, but once we found it, it just started going our way. That's something we're proud of. Once we got the momentum, it was going to stay our way in the second half. Basketball is a game of runs. We had to be patient and find the open spots on the floor against the zone. We have to finish the non-conference games very strong. We have to do an excellent job of rebounding and cut down on our turnovers."
"When McNeese was in the zone, we started passing it around to get them tired. We started throwing the ball down low to Jordan Mickey and Johnny O'Bryant since they were bigger than the other guys. We threw it down there, so they could put it in. It's really nice to know we have guys who can come off the bench and contribute. They play hard and do whatever is best for the team."
LSU will play host to Rhode Island next Saturday at the PMAC at 7 p.m. The Rams (7-6), who lost 77-64 to Southern Mississippi on Saturday afternoon, will play at Brown on Thursday. The LSU-Rhode Island game will be broadcast on CST.