The LSU men's basketball team made all of the key plays down the stretch to end a four-game losing skid and sealed Johnny Jones' first SEC victory with a 58-54 triumph over Texas A&M Wednesday at the Maravich Center.
Shavon Coleman came up big for the Tigers
LSU (10-6, 1-4 SEC) turned to its suffocating full court pressure after falling behind by 14 points early in the first half and forced Texas A&M (12-6, 2-3 SEC) into a season's high 24 turnovers.
"I thought in the beginning of the game A&M came out and controlled the tempo,” Jones said. “They were very deliberate in terms of their style of play, making extra passes, getting open, knocking down shots and I thought they did a great job of getting off to a really good start.
“I thought when we got into the press and got moving that it gave our guys a little bit more energy. We started moving a little bit better, and I thought it kind of lit a fire under us. It really got us going so I thought the press really changed the game for us."
Shavon Coleman ripped of 10 of his team-leading 17 points during the second half. For Coleman, it was his highest scoring output since the Seton Hall game on November 29. He also tacked on four rebounds and three steals.
Johnny O'Bryant III turned in another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He knocked down 6-of-10 from the floor, and the Tigers have won all four games this season when O'Bryant III has compiled a double dip.
Anthony Hickey notched 10 points for his eight straight outing with double figures. He also collected a career-best eight steals to add to his nation's leading average.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us tonight,” said Jones. “We didn't get off to a great start but credit our guys for continuing to battle. They fought extremely hard.”
All square at 50-50 with 2:24 remaining, the Tigers took the lead for good on a Coleman lay-up. After forcing an A&M turnover, Coleman connected for another lay-up off a beautiful feed from Hickey to go up by two possessions at the 1:04 mark.
Fabyon Harris responded with a runner to draw the Aggies back to 54-52 with 44.9 seconds to play. Following an A&M timeout, LSU broke the Aggies press attempt and O'Bryant III slammed down a two-handed dunk to give the Tigers back a four-point cushion.
Three possessions later, Harris dropped in two free throws to bring Texas A&M back to 56-54 with 13.9 seconds remaining.
After scoring only three points in the first 39-plus minutes, Andre Stringer calmly went to the foul line less than second later. He drained both free throws which included the front end of a 1-and-1 to clinch the 58-54 victory.
Harris fueled A&M with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He was the only Aggie to garner double figures.
Texas A&M executed at a high level en route to building a 19-5 lead eight minutes into the opening half. The Aggies went 8-for-14 during the outset and received baskets from six different players.
LSU crept back to single digits after a Coleman triple to make it 21-12 at the 8:42 mark.
The Tigers continued their charge and sliced the deficit down to 28-27 heading into the locker room after ripping off 10 straight points over the final 2:41 of the stanza. Hickey ignited the flurry with a three-pointer and buried a 17-foot rainbow jumper off the dribble as time expired.
LSU grabbed its first lead at 39-38 after Morgan canned a three-ball with 14:55 to go in the second half. The game stayed within one possession for the next 13:50 until Coleman's second lay-up at the 1:04 mark.
"It wasn't really hard,” said Hickey. “We just have to stay together. The crowd was still into it. They didn't get dead on us. Everybody was still into the game. We made our run, and we put the pressure on them. We were able to get our hands on the ball, and we got back into the game."
LSU travels to the Bluegrass Saturday for its lone match-up with defending national champion Kentucky. Tip time is on tap for 3 p.m. CT from Rupp Arena, and the game will carried live by the SEC Network.
"We want to just continue to push and not look back,” O’Bryant said of the matchup with Kentucky. “We have been through so many tough games, and we weren't able to pull them out. I think this one really sets the tone for us. We have to get ready for a good Kentucky team on Saturday."
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