Trent Johnson’s Tigers improved to 6-2 with a 59-55 win over the Central Michigan Chippewas in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday night.
Freshman Andre Stringer and junior Chris Bass combined to shoot 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the closing minute to close the door on a scrappy Central Michigan club.
Stringer played just five first-half minutes after picking up a couple of early fouls. He was only 1-for-6 from the field and had six turnovers against zero assists.
But with the game on the line, he showed his mental toughness.
“I definitely struggled tonight. Tonight wasn’t my best night,” said Stringer. “At the end, I just locked in and made my free throws.”
The Tigers trailed much of the second half as the Chippewas pressure defense forced 17 LSU turnovers.
“(Central Michigan) took away our perimeter. They pressured our guys out,” said junior forward Malcolm White. “In the second half I was able to get good looks and knock some shots down.”
White, with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, was the only Tiger in double figures.
For the Chippewas, it was a two-pronged attack from senior Jalin Thomas and freshman Trey Zeigler. The duo combined for 39 of the 55 Central Michigan points. No other player had more than five points in the game.
“We knew those were the two main guys,” Turner said of Thomas and Zeigler. “We just tried to limit them as much as we could, but they’re good players so obviously they’re going to find ways to score.”
A jump shot by Thomas with 13:55 to play in the game capped a 15-2 run to begin the second half and put Central Michigan up by 11 points. The bucket forced Johnson to call a timeout to stop the bleeding.
“There was a period there in the second half where the guys had that look on their face like, ‘Oh, my goodness,’” said Johnson.
LSU responded quickly out of the timeout with a White jump shot and a Turner 3-pointer, one of his three on the night, to cut the lead to six with 12:18 to play.
LSU wouldn’t tie the game until a Storm Warren lay-up with 2:03 remaining in the game.
From there it became a free throw contest, one that the Tigers would win.
Thomas and Stringer traded free throws to re-tie the game with 1:05 left.
Stringer buried two more with 37 seconds left, and after a Chippewa turnover, nailed another pair at the 11-second mark.
Two Bass free throws after a Central Michigan lay up iced the win for the Purple and Gold.
After the extended vacation, LSU returns to take on a 7-2 Coastal Carolina team at home on Monday at 7 p.m.
When asked about the quick turnaround being a positive after a rough outing, Johnson displayed the sharp tongue that those around the program have come to expect.
“Yea, it's good for them because they don't have to practice,” he said.