Tigers tear through Nicholls in second half

A near flawless second half allowed LSU to overcome a shaky offensive performance in the first half and beat Nicholls State, 71-35, at the Maravich Assembly Center on Sunday. The Tigers trailed, 25-22, at halftime but held the Colonels scoreless for 14 minutes in the second period while going on a 31-0 run.

LSU guard Torris Bright had his best game of the season, scoring 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting with four 3-pointers. He also led the Tigers with six assists. Antonio Hudson, starting in the place of the injured Collis Temple III, scored 14 and Jermaine Williams added ten points for the Tigers.

The win improved LSU to 10-3 this season and makes the Tigers 10-0 all time against the Colonels. Nicholls State dropped to 1-9 after managing only 10 points over the last 20 minutes of the game. The 35 points were the fewest allowed by an LSU team since Southeastern Louisiana managed just 36 on Nov. 22, 1999.

"I'll be honest. I thought in the first half we tried," said LSU head coach John Brady. "(Nicholls) shot 38 percent, but we were worse. I don't think the problem was with our defense. It was our offense. We missed some shots and rushed a few."

LSU struggled mightily with the ball in the first half against an effective man-to-man and 2-1-2 zone defense from Nicholls. The Tigers hit just 8-of-25 from the field in the opening period and didn't make their first field goal in the game until the 14:40 mark when Hudson made a 3-pointer in transition.

That basket started a 13-0 run for LSU that put the Tigers in the lead, 14-9, with 10:49 to play in the half. Nicholls went back ahead after LSU failed to make a field goal over the last 4:26 before halftime.

"I said at halftime we would play Collis Temple on crutches if this is how we were going to play without him," said Brady. "We were going to get him out there in a wheelchair."

Temple suffered a high ankle sprain against McNeese State on Dec. 15 and, although he was able to play last Thursday against Miami in the Sugar Bowl Classic, Brady elected to rest him against Nicholls.

"I told them I was embarrassed with where we were at that point in the game," Brady continued, "and I said if anybody in this locker room had any pride, they were going to go out there and do something about it in the second half."

The Tigers quickly wrestled the lead away from Nicholls at the start of the second half. Williams was fouled while making a drive move to the goal but missed a free throw that would have completed a 3-point play and tied the game. Bright, however, came up with the loose ball rebound and made a short basket to give LSU a 26-25 lead just 14 seconds into the period. The Tigers ended up outscoring Nicholls 49-10 in the second half.

Nicholls would stay within a basket of LSU over the next three minutes thanks to a pair of field goals from Ronnie Price, the Colonels' leading scorer with 10 points. But after Reggie Williams' put-back basket at the 16:18 mark, the offensive well ran dry for Nicholls State. When Price hit a 14-foot jumper from the wing 14 minutes later, LSU was already ahead by 31 points. The Tigers got 12 point off of steals and turnovers in that stretch, and Bright was at his hottest with 7 points, 2 steals and 2 assists.

"When he's out there and right," Brady said about Bright, "things flow well. If we would have had a little of that against Miami, I think we would have won."

Sophomore JueMichael Young made his first appearance of the regular season in the first half against Nicholls. He missed the only shot he took in four minutes of action in the first period but saw seven minutes of mop-up duty and finished with 8 points.

Hudson and Ronald Dupree each had 4 steals each, and Dupree led the Tigers with 16 rebounds while struggling through a 3-for-14 shooting afternoon. Brad Bridgewater had a career-high 10 rebounds to go with 7 points.

LSU recovered from 32 percent shooting in the first half to finish the game at 50 percent (28-56). The Tigers permitted Nicholls State just two chances at the free throw line – both misses – while hitting 9 of their 17 shots there. Nicholls was 16-of-56 from the field for the game, including 5-of-27 in the second half.

The rebound edge also went decisively to LSU, 44-27, and 18 assists helped offset 13 Tiger turnovers. The Colonels had 10 assists to 16 turnovers and recorded 9 steals.

LSU now has a six-day layoff from competition before opening its Southeastern Conference schedule against Alabama on Saturday, Jan. 5, on the road. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip-off at Coleman Coliseum and will be broadcast regionally on the Fox Sports Network.

"If we sleepwalk through 20 minutes on Jan. 5 in Tuscaloosa, we'll have 10 (points) and they'll (Alabama) have 49," Brady said.

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