LSU (4-1) played a complete game for the first time in the young 2002-03 campaign and looked dominant in doing so. McNeese (3-2) had problems dealing with the Tigers' athleticism from start to finish.
"I thought our team put two pretty good halves together," said LSU coach John Brady. "There are a few things we need to work on but I think we worked through some things that obviously from our first exhibition game to this point I think our team is playing much better and is improving. I think we have adjusted to playing some of the right people in the right spots and we made some progress."
The Tigers opened up what was a competitive game for the first 13 minutes by outscoring the Cowboys 18-6 over the final 6:53 of the half to overcome a one-point deficit and take a 40-29 lead into the locker room.
Ronald Dupree took Brady's advice to heart and hurt McNeese in the first half with his slashing moves to the basket. He scored 14 of his 22 points in that spell with six coming from the charity stripe. His four first half field goals were highlighted by three high-flying dunks as the Tigers were too quick for the out manned Cowboys.
"I'm just relaxed," Dupree said. "I'm just going out and having fun and playing to my strengths. My game is coming together. I'm focused on putting games together back to back and staying consistent like I've always been. As long as you have guys like Torris and Jaime stepping up and playing well then it's not going to be too hard to do what I do."
Torris Bright and Jaime Lloreda gave Dupree all of the help he needed as both turned in sterling performances. Bright dished out 12 assists and turned the ball over only once in running the offense and was deadly from the outside with 3-of-5 shooting from behind the arc. All in all, the senior from Slidell finished with 16 points and four steals to go along with his dozen assists.
"The last 10 or 12 games last year where we kind of resurrected ourselves and our team and started playing really well, Torris Bright's assist to turnover ratio was two to one," Brady said. "When Torris Bright is playing that way we can become a nice team. I'm not saying he is going to play like that every game. But certainly when he plays with that kind of composure and is in more contact with the floor, our team has a nice flow about it."
Bright was on the lobbing end of several alley-oops that brought the crowd of 3,114 to its feet, but Lloreda's inside performance made people forget about the departed Shawnson Johnson, who left the team at halftime Tuesday's game with McNeese State. Lloreda scored a game-high 23 points, pulled down 14 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass, and blocked a two shots. It was his best game since arriving from the junior college ranks and his second double-double in five games.
Five Tigers finished in double digit scoring with Darrell Mitchell coming off the bench to pump in 12 points in place of a foul-plagued Antonio Hudson. Mitchell sparked LSU with 8 second-half points, including an alley-oop jam courtesy of Bright.
The Tigers have a week off before its next game to focus on final exams, but Brady said the team will have a normal week of practice and training.
LSU returns to action on Dec. 14 when it hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 6:30 p.m.