LSU (20-13, 9-9) rode a wave of hot second-half shooting to a double-digit lead before holding on late to win its opening-round NIT game at San Francisco (21-12, 13-5) by the final of 71-63.
Freshman Jarell Martin played one of his best games of the season, pouring in a team-high 16 points, with 14 coming in the first half. Shavon Coleman and Johnny O'Bryant added 13 points and six rebounds apiece.
The fifth-seeded Tigers, which led 33-30 at the half, extended their lead to 16 points deep into the second stanza after consecutive threes from Anthony Hickey and Tim Quarterman only to see USF go on a 13-4 run, eventually cutting the lead to six with 2:05 remaining.
But the Dons would draw no closer as Coleman and Andre Stringer converted free throws down the stretch.
With the win the Tigers move on to face No. 1 seed SMU in Dallas on Monday night. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. CT and ESPN will carry the television broadcast.
LSU advances past San Francisco
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