The Tigers are now 3-0 to start the season for the first time since 2005-06 and Northwestern evened its record at 2-2. After the first weekend of play in the five-team, four-game two weekend round-robin event that resumes on Friday, LSU is 2-0, Centenary, Troy and Northwestern State are 1-1 and Alcorn State is 0-2.
Marcus Thornton had 20 first half points and got his shooting touch going, hitting 10-of-16 field goals including three treys to finish with 25 points in 22 minutes. Storm Warren came off the bench and led the Tigers with seven rebounds, while Chris Bass dished out six assists. Bo Spencer had 10 points and Chris Johnson added four blocks as LSU had double figure blocks for the second straight game (10).
LSU shot 50 percent from the field compared to 34.4 percent for the Demons, who hit just 7-of-31 in the first half. LSU finished 7-of-14 from the arc and had its worst game of the season at the free throw line, hitting for just 62.9 percent (22-of-35).
Northwestern State was led by Devin White and Dwayne Watkins with eight points each.
The Tigers jumped out quickly on the Demons for eight points in the first two minutes as Chris Johnson got a layup, Garrett Temple a free throw, a layup by Marcus Thornton and a three-pointer by Bo Spencer.
The margin helped the Tigers as both teams substituted four and five at a time several times during the first 20 minutes. Northwestern State cut the margin to five on a field goal by Williams Mosley, 10-5, but LSU advanced the lead to nine, 17-8 with 12:54 left on Thornton’s first three-pointer of the season.
Michael McConathy scored on a layup for the Demons that made it 22-16 with 9:01 to go and the Demons would not score again until the 1:27 mark to stop a 21-0 run.
With two straight games with strong starts, coach Trent Johnson talked about the intensity difference in the first three games.
“This is a group that wants to play well,” he said. “They want to do well. They want to win. They are doing a good job of continually coming out in practice and when we address something we think is wrong, they come out and work at it. As long as we continue to do that, I think we are going to have a chance, I really do.”
When Johnson speaks of having a chance he wants to make sure the players and fans don’t get ahead of themselves, and that they keep the process in mind.
“When I say have a chance, the bottom line is to beat the people we are supposed to beat and hopefully pop up and beat somebody everybody thinks we aren’t supposed to beat,” he said. “That is what this thing is all about. We just need to continue to work at it and try to get better. Playing and competing at a high level with intensity is a start. The other stuff is correctible. Whether you have a breakdown defensively or missed assignments on offense that is correctible.”
The win was the 68th consecutive against Louisiana schools at the Maravich Center dating back to Dec. 8, 1988.
The LSU Invitational resumes Friday at 4:30 p.m. with two games as Northwestern State takes on Alcorn State and the LSU Tigers host Centenary in a 7 p.m. tilt. LSU’s other game next week is Sunday at 6 p.m. when the Tigers host Troy.