Tigers ease past McNeese 78-74

LSU held off the long-range shooting of McNeese State thanks to some key plays in the final minutes to win for the 64th straight time at home against a Louisiana school, 78-74, over the McNeese State Cowboys Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

A three-point play by Tasmin Mitchell ignited a late surge that carried LSU to a 2-0 start heading into the EA Sports Maui Invitational that begins Monday in Lahaina, Hawaii. The Tigers will meet Oklahoma State, a loser Wednesday night at North Texas, 83-72.

Mitchell's three-point play with 2:41 remaining in the game gave the Tigers (2-0) a 68-65 lead. A dunk by Anthony Randolph pushed LSU's advantage to five points.

The Cowboys (0-2) would pull within three points, 72-69, on a basket by Jarvis Bradley. But, the Tigers built their lead back to seven on a pair of free throws by Marcus Thornton and Garrett Temple.

McNeese came right back to cut its deficit to two points on a field goal and 3-pointer by John Ford. But, both Temple and Mitchell made one of two free throw attempts in the last 25 seconds to preserve the victory.

Thornton was the top scorer for LSU with 24 points. Mitchell, who was saddled with two quick fouls Monday against Southeastern Louisiana, had a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Randolph finished with 12 points and Terry Martin had 11.

Ford and Diego Kapelan, both of whom knocked down five 3-pointers, led the Cowboys. Ford, who was 5-of-6 on 3-pointers, had 21 points. Kapelan, who made five of his 10 3-point attempts, had 15 points. Aldryan Wardell had 10.

LSU fell behind by one point early in the second half before going on an 8-0 run. Martin started the spurt with a 3-pointer and ended it with a two-point basket.

In between those two field goals, Thornton made one of two free throws and Temple made a layup off a turnover. That brief flurry of points left the Tigers with a 47-40 lead.

LSU would build an eight-point advantage at 52-44, but McNeese answered with eight consecutive points on two 3-pointers by Kapelan and a basket by Kleon Penn. Neither team would have a lead greater than three points until the deciding stretch.

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