The Tigers’ effort on the offensive end produced their highest point total of the season, but holding a Troy squad that scored 100 points on Saturday night to only 34 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc, is what LSU's players were most excited about.
“They put in our heads that they scored 100 points last night … and we knew this team could shoot the ball,” said Garrett Temple, who scored nine points, grabbed seven boards and dished out 10 assists.
“They averaged 30 attempts (three-point) a game, and they made 15 last night, so that was something big that we wanted to keep them from. Our perimeter players did a great job of guarding the ball and not letting them get open three’s up.”
LSU head coach Trent Johnson wants defense to be one of his team’s trademarks and he liked the fact that his guys outrebounded the Trojans 52-30 including 22-12 on the offensive glass.
“It was an improvement,” Johnson said. “As we all know we’ve given up our share of offensive rebounds in the first three or four games and I thought for the most part it was a plus.”
The Tigers (5-0) led 41-27 at the half and pushed their lead to 20 points at the 12:12 mark of the second half off of the hot shooting from Thornton, who hit 13-of-24 from the field including 4-of-10 from three-point land.
LSU eventually pushed the margin to 30 points off a dunk by Thornton with 4:27 left for an exclamation point on his superb performance.
“We had a combination of 26 assists so he (Marcus) has to give his teammates a lot of credit for getting him the ball,” said Johnson. “I thought for the most part Marcus took good shots. Marcus is one of these guys that can take bad shots and make them, but he took good shots within the frame of what we’re trying to do.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first couple of minutes of action off a pair of trey’s from Thornton and a baseline jumper from Tasmin Mitchell, who had eight points and three rebounds. For good measure Thornton crashed the boards and slammed home a putback to give LSU its double-digit lead at the 17:33 mark.
The closest Troy could get in the first 20 minutes was nine points and LSU led by as many as 20 before the Trojans went on an 8-2 run to close out the half and cut it to a 41-27 lead.
Troy prevented LSU from running away with it by a pair of three-pointers from Regis Huddleston and a pair of baskets by Chris Leggett coming out of intermission.
However, a 12-3 run and a 19-9 spurt in the second half was all LSU needed before Johnson emptied out his bench.
“That was a good win, a good win,” Johnson said. “I mentioned to our team prior to going out that I thought Troy State had improved as much in a week and a half than any team I’ve seen in a while.”
Troy dropped 3-4 on the season and the Trojans were led by Brandon Hazzard’s 16 points.
After hitting five and eight points in the Tigers’ first two games of the season, Marcus Thornton went for 25 points against Northwestern State and Centenary.
His 32 point performance, which included 22 in the second half, marked the second time this season he has pumped in 20 or more points in a half.
“I’m coming accustomed to his (Johnson) system but it took me a while,” Thornton said. “I think everybody is doing a good job of listening to what he’s saying and playing their roles, and we’re winning games.
“My teammates have been believing in me from day one,” added Thornton. “The first couple of games they didn’t go down, but I knew they were going to come around. They just keep passing me the ball because they believe in me.”
By the Numbers
Garrett Temple’s 10 assists was the most by a Tiger since Tack Minor dished out 10 in 2005.
Chris Johnson had five blocked shots, all in the first half, and he now has 16 in five games.
LSU returns to action against Cal State Fullerton (3-4) on Tuesday as the Tigers play their last game before taking an 11-day break for final exams.
The Tigers play host to a Titan squad that earned a spot in last year’s NCAA Tournament and this will be a step up in competition for Johnson’s squad.