LSU cranks up defense to roll past Grambling

Strong second half keys 7th win in a row. Jalen Courtney comes off the bench for a career-best 14 points to spark the Tigers.

LSU coach Trent Johnson wasn't surprised with the manner of his team's 69-37 victory against Grambling on Thursday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers (10-3), who won their seventh consecutive game, had just a 13-point halftime lead against winless Grambling. It wasn't until the 13-minute mark of the second half that LSU began to pull away.

"We were a little sluggish to start the game which was expected after just being back three days (from Christmas break)," Johnson said. "We played a lot of guys early and we were out of rhythm. In the second half, we were better."

In each game of the current winning streak, LSU has held the opponent to fewer than 60 points. The last time LSU accomplished that feat happened 59 seasons ago. The 37 points were the fewest allowed by LSU in a game since a 68-24 victory against Nicholls State nine years ago.

Grambling's Quincy Roberts, who entered the game with a 28-point scoring average, was held to 19and connected on only 7-of-23 shots from the field. Only three other players scored for Grambling State (0-10), which made 23 percent (13 of 57) of its field goal attempts.

"We wore Roberts down a little bit," Johnson said. "I thought John Isaac did a real good job on (Roberts) in the second half. We tried to force him baseline all game."

Johnny O'Bryant

Jalen Courtney came off the bench to lead LSU in scoring with a career-high 14 points. Johnny O'Bryant was the only other LSU player in double figures with 10 points.

"LSU is so much bigger and stronger than us," Grambling coach Bobby Washington said. "For a team like us, it wears you down. In the first half, we can hang and feel good about ourselves. Those big bodies make a difference. You can start to see a gap and it gets wider and wider."

It took LSU 8:15 to take its first double-digit lead of the game when Eddie Ludwig's 3-pointer stretched the margin to 18-8 with 11:45 remaining in the first half. LSU made eight of its first 12 shots while building the 10-point advantage.

There was a dry spell later in the first half, which included missed 11 consecutive field goal attempts. But Grambling (0-10) only made one basket, a field by Roberts, during that 5-minute stretch.

Andrew Del Piero

With the lead down to 24-17, LSU got back-to-back 3-pointers from Ralston Turner and a three-point play from Justin Hamilton. A 3-pointer by Roberts left Grambling behind 33-20 at halftime.

LSU held Grambling to one field goal in the first 7½ minutes of the second half. Getting 11 points from its bench players, LSU outscored Grambling 13-4 to go on top 46-24. Grambling got no closer than 20 points the rest of the game.

The Tigers take their longest winning streak since 2009 into the final non-conference game of the season on Monday when No. 23-ranked Virginia (10-1) visits the PMAC.

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