LSU surges to 79-65 win over Jackson State
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)—Trent Johnson’s first victory as LSU coach did not come easily.
It took a surge in the final eight minutes to propel LSU to a 79-65 victory against Jackson State on Saturday in the season-opener for both teams.
LSU had a three-point lead at 62-59 with just under eight minutes remaining, then closed out the game with a 17-6 run.
“I was disappointed and I know the players were disappointed in the lack of intensity,” Johnson said. “We just exerted energy and competed more in the second half. Jackson State had 39 points at halftime and that’s not good.”
Sophomore Bo Spencer, who made just three starts a year ago, scored a career-high 21 points for LSU. Spencer was 7-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-5 from behind the 3-point line.
“Coach (Johnson) told me if I had it, knock it down,” Spencer said. “I tried to dribble and create. There are going to be days when Marcus (Thornton) is off. We’re going to have to pick it up then.”
Thornton, who averaged nearly 20 points a game last season, played just 18 minutes due to foul trouble and scored five points. Thornton missed eight of his nine field-goal attempts.
“Looking at all of the tapes from last year, when Marcus didn’t have a good game, everybody caved in on offense,” Johnson said. “For him not to play well and win is a plus for us.”
Junior Tasmin Mitchell and senior Chris Johnson supported Spencer by scoring 17 points apiece. But Mitchell was more encouraged by the play of Spencer.
“Bo really stepped us,” Mitchell said. “I’m proud of him. He kept us in the game in the first half. He played like a real point guard.”
Darrion Griffin was the top scorer for Jackson State with 16 points. Grant Maxey and Jeremy Caldwell added 13 points, while DeSuan Dixon contributed 10.
LSU built its first comfortable advantage of the day with a 10-0 run in the early portion of the second half. Terry Martin knocked down two shots, one a 3-pointer. A basket by Storm Warren concluded the spurt which put LSU on top 55-47.
Jackson State scored the next five points on a 3-pointer by Dixon and a field goal by Griffin. Jackson State stayed within striking distance of LSU until the final eight minutes.
Consecutive baskets by Martin and Spencer fueled the game-ending run. Mitchell added two field goals and two free throws. Spencer added a 3-pointer and Johnson contributed a field goal and two foul shots.
LSU jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead on two field goals by Mitchell and two free throws by Johnson. However, Jackson State battled back to tie the score at 9 on a basket by Maxey five and a half minutes into the game.
From that point until halftime there were seven ties and 11 lead changes. The biggest advantage for either team in the rest of the first half came after a run of six straight points put Jackson State ahead 39-34. Griffin scored four of those six points.
LSU was able to tie the score at 39 by halftime. Those five LSU points were the result of free throws two by Johnson, one by Alex Farrer and two by Spencer. The foul shots by Spencer came with two-seconds remaining before halftime.
“Trent had his team play real well,” Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson said. “LSU’s half-court offense in the second half was really good. We probably shot the ball a little quicker than we should have in the second half.”
Jackson State made only 30 percent of its field goal attempts in the second half. LSU shot 52 percent from the field after halftime.