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Big win for Tigers

Shavon Coleman poured in 14 of his game-high 18 points during the second half to propel the LSU men's basketball team to a 72-67 comeback victory over Seton Hall as part of the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge Thursday at the Maravich Center.

Jalen Courtney pulls for a jumper in the win over Seton Hall on Thursday

A big part of LSU (5-0) staying undefeated and erasing a 16-point second half deficit was its defense. The Tigers turned up the full court pressure and forced Seton Hall (5-2) into 16 second half turnovers. Four different players committed five or more turnovers as Seton Hall ended the contest with 26 total turnovers.

“I thought if we extended our press and try to press them down the floor, we would forced them to try to play a little faster and speed them up a little bit that the game may kind of turn and get in our favor, especially if we could get some turnovers and some easy scoring opportunities,” said LSU head coach Johnny Jones.

“I think both things happened for us. We were able to get turnovers. We were able to turn the turnovers into some easy scoring opportunities. On the other end of the floor, I thought that they started rushing their shots when they were open a little bit. When they were able to get looks, we were able to rebound those and turn those into fast break opportunities as well. I thought it created some energy not only in our team, but I thought our fans really were able to get engaged and get in the game as well. I thought that really spurred us on."

Along with Coleman’s performance, the Tigers got strong efforts from a nice supporting cast.

Johnny O'Bryant III came away with 13 points and hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds en route to his second straight double-double. Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer tacked on 10 points apiece, while Charles Carmouche turned in a strong all-around effort with eight points to go along with seven assists and four steals, both career-highs. Malik Morgan also chipped in eight points in 16 minutes off the bench.

“The big thing I always ask our guys prior to the game is if they're able to play for 40 minutes, and they were able to do that,” said Jones. “They weren't dropping their heads tonight , they were never frustrated. They stayed in the game, stayed focused and some good things happened for us."

After building a 35-27 halftime lead, Seton Hall connected a pair of three-pointers from Brian Oliver and Aaron Cosby during the first 20 seconds of the second half to extend its advantage to 41-27.

The Pirates led by as many as 16, 46-30 at the 17:16 mark, after a Eugene Teague jumper.

LSU fired back with a 20-4 run over the next eight minutes ignited by a Stringer jumper. The Tigers got back within single digits, 52-44, on a Hickey three ball with 11:52 left.

Coleman and O'Bryant pieced together lay-ups coupled with a pair of Hickey free throws. Then, a turnover caused by the LSU press, and a Shane Hammink put back deadlocked the score at 52-52 with 8:55 to go.

"We came out, and I thought we had a chance at times to get away. But we let them (LSU) get momentum,” said Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard. “We softened up in the second half defensively. We let them get some easy shots, some 15 footers and offensive rebounds. If you let the crowd get back in it, then the refs will just swallow their whistles like they did. It's a learning process, and that's what I like about our team."

The Tigers took the lead 60-58 on a Coleman jumper at the 6:06 mark. It was LSU's first lead since 1-0 during the game's opening minute. On the next possession, Morgan added a deep three-ball from the left wing off a Hickey pass to push the LSU advantage to 63-58.

Seton Hall answered with consecutive three-pointers from Cosby and Fuquan Edwin to grab a 64-63 edge with 3:43 left. It would be short-lived, though, as Coleman buried another jumper to give LSU the lead for good.

“Although the first half wasn't a great half for us, the second half being down, I thought they continued to fight,” Jones said. “They continued to stay the course and some great things happened for us at the end. I thought it was a great gutsy win with our basketball team here tonight."

The Tigers sank 7-of-8 at the free throw line over the final 87 seconds to clinch the 72-67 triumph, the program's second straight during the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge. Over the final three-plus minutes, LSU also forced Seton Hall into five turnovers.

The Pirates were paced by Brandon Mobley's 17 points. He was limited, however, to two points and three shots during the second half. Teague tacked on 14 points and six rebounds, while Cosby and Oliver notched 13 points apiece to give Seton Hall four players with double figures.

LSU wraps its six-game homestand after an 11-day hiatus between games for final exams against Chattanooga on December 11. Tip time is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Maravich Center, and the game will be carried live by Cox Sports Television.

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