“A win is a win,” Johnson said during his post-game press conference then began taking questions from the media.
The headman wasn’t pleased as LSU struggled in the first half and had to go on a five-point run late in the half to tie it at 39.
The Tigers struggled on both ends of the floor and was outrebounded by Jackson State 19-16 in the first 20 minutes.
It was more of the same in the beginning of the second half and the Tigers trailed 47-45 before they scored 10 straight to take a 55-47 lead with 11:47 left.
Jackson State went on a run of its own and cut the lead to three at 62-59, but from that point on the Tigers stepped up their play on both ends of the floor and finished with a 17-6 run.
The Tigers didn’t get much out of Marcus Thornton, who picked up two quick fouls and went to the bench with four personals before the 18:00 mark of the second half. The Tigers’ returning leading scorer scored just five on Saturday and hit only one-of-nine field goal attempts.
Picking up the slack for Thornton and the Tigers was Martin and Bo Spencer.
Spencer led LSU with 21 points and hit 7-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point land.
“Coach (Johnson) told me that if I had a couple of open shots, I should take them,” Spencer said. “He has really made me focus on trying to make plays and create ways to get points on the board. I didn’t expect to make this many points. It just happened.”
Tasmin Mitchell, who was playing for the first time since the third game last season, scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Mitchell had a lot of bounce in his legs and played well with his back to the goal using a running jump hook that got him three baskets.
Chris Johnson added 17 point and seven rebounds, but the evening belonged to Spencer.
“Bo (Spencer) made good decisions. Everyone here might be surprised, but Bo is the one guy on this basketball team that has made immense improvements,” Johnson said. “He is the one guy that since I’ve gotten here, he hasn’t been able to breathe. We have been on him constantly. His play in the first half is what kept us close, but in terms of shots that he took, I told him a long time ago, he was going to have opportunity.”
Johnson was happy to get the win, but after the two pre-season scrimmages he expected to see a better showing.
He knows that his team will need to play better and so do the players.
“The thing that disappoints me is that we haven’t practiced like that and we didn’t play like that versus Tulane and New Orleans,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, this will be something that can be contributed to first game jitters. We definitely need to get it corrected.”
“Well, today we played how we have been practicing,” added Chris Johnson. “We were a little sluggish and slow. We know what we have to work on and what problems need to be fixed. I know we can play better, and we will.”
Missing in Action
Garrett Temple was held scoreless and did not attempt any shots in his new role at the three-spot.
Storm Warren played well in his debut scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds in 13 minutes of action.