Tigers run past Houston Sports 124-78

The LSU Tiger basketball team closed out its exhibition season with a 124-78 blowout of the Houston Sports Group on Monday evening, in an encounter that often looked more like a rec league shootout than a Division I-A warmup.

Junior guard Darrel Mitchell was the leading scorer for the Tigers with 27 points and nine assists on 10-of-16 shooting, including a 5-for-10 performance from beyond the arc, while sophomore forward Brandon Bass added 20 points and nine rebounds in the rout.

"I thought offensively we were better, particularly in the open floor," said head coach John Brady. "We got out in transition and did some things that we had been working on, and that was positive. We made open shots for the most part, shared the ball, we had 32 assists. That's what we've been trying to do, play that faster pace, and I think we showed that tonight."

The game was never in doubt as LSU opened up an early 9-5 lead on the back of three three-pointers from Antonio Hudson and Tack Minor, and from there the purple and gold never looked back as they piled on the points, doubling their scoring total from their first exhibition game six days earlier.

With 8:25 still remaining in the first half, the Tigers reached their first 20-point lead of the game at 38-18 with a pair of free throws from sophomore forward Darnell Lazare, and despite a spirited Houston comeback to cut the lead to 12 points five minutes later, LSU had its second 20-point lead at 52-32 with 2:37 still on the clock.

Bass and Hudson both reached double figures by halftime with 14 and 10 points respectively, while forward Ross Neltner turned in a strong showing with six points, five rebounds, and five assists in the first 20 minutes of play as the Tigers headed to the break up 62-41.

"I'm slowly getting in better shape," said Bass, who only began practicing with the team 11 days ago after undergoing offseason knee surgery. "Slowly getting in rhythm, both with myself and with my team. Every game I'm just trying to make it better than the last one."

Things only got worse in the second half for the Houston Sports Group, as LSU executed its new fast break offense to devastating effect while the outgunned visitors stood helpless. The first 30-point lead was opened up at 81-51 in highlight-worthy fashion, as a rare Minor miss was slammed home by an airborne Bass five minutes into the second half, and a pair of Regis Koundjia free throws stretched the Tigers' lead to 41 with 3:17 still left to play.

As Brady slowly emptied his bench over the final minutes the scoring continued as the reserves added 15 points, including nine in five minutes by freshman Tyrus Thomas, who scored the final basket of the game with a breakaway windmill dunk in the closing seconds to complete the romp.

While LSU was outstanding on offense, shooting at a 64.7 percent clip and hitting 15-of-30 three point attempts, the performance was not quite perfect as the size of the lead often led to sloppy play on the defensive end of the floor, as the Tigers let their focus slip late in the game.

"Sometimes it's hard to concentrate like you need to when you know you're going to win the game, when the score becomes spread by 40 or so," said Brady.

"It seemed like we ran the ball better on offense than we did coming back on defense. If you can run forward you can certainly run backward. We've got a couple of days to work on that before Friday."

LSU returns to action on November 19 when they host Tulane in the second game of the LSU-Louisiana Classic in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at 8 p.m. The Tigers will then play the winner of the Louisiana Tech vs. UL-Lafayette game on Sunday afternoon to close out the inaugural tournament.

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