Tigers Put Sycamores Away

LSU got another double-double from Storm Warren and moved to 2-0 after a 56-45 win over Indiana State.


The LSU Tigers had to reach way down to find the strength to get past Indiana State, 56-45, in the first round of the south region of the Dick's Sporting Good NIT Season Tip-Off at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers (2-0) are now one win away from a trip to New York City for the NIT semifinals as they advance to the round of eight Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Maravich Center where they will meet Western Kentucky, a 69-65 winner over UW-Milwaukee in the opening game of the night.

LSU did not have a good night shooting in many respects, hitting just 23-of-67 and missing all 15 three point attempts, but the Tigers dug down on defense and held Indiana State to just 30.2 percent from the field, 13-of-43.

"We found a way. It was not pretty," said head coach Trent Johnson. "Hopefully, the lid will be off the basket tomorrow. All in all, we got it done on the glass. I don't think either team shot the ball truly well. You had two teams out there getting physically after one another, but for us, we have to work our way through. The good thing about tonight is that we won, and when you play ugly and win that is a good thing."

Bo Spencer came to life down the stretch

Storm Warren doubled up for the second straight game with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Bo Spencer and Dennis Harris, who hit 5-of-9 in 21 minutes off the bench, each had 10 points. Tasmin Mitchell missed double figures as Indiana State keyed their defense on him with eight points, but the senior had 14 rebounds.

"He has a nose for the ball, and obviously, our best offense was taking good shots in rhythm, getting up on the rim if we missed and going and getting it back," Johnson said of Warren. "Teams are going to put a lot of pressure on Tasmin (Mitchell) with two and sometimes three guys. I thought for the most part Indiana State did a really good job of trying to take him and Bo (Spencer) away. There were a lot of open shots that were missed, and Storm gave us a lift by crashing the glass."

Dwayne Lathan off the bench was the only player in double figures with 12 for the 1-1 Sycamores.

Indiana State opened up a 6-0 lead within the first five minutes of the game before the Tigers were able to tie the game at 14-14 with 6:23 to go in the half and then took the lead for good on a Harris dunk. LSU led, 24-19, at the half.

Indianan State pulled to within four at 30-26 at the 15:13 mark of the second half but LSU went on an 8-2 run to build its biggest lead of the game at 38-28 at the 9:46 mark. Eddie Ludwig and Bo Spencer each hit a layup and Chris Bass nailed a pair of free throws. Zach Kinsley then hit a jumper and the Tigers had their first double-digit lead of the evening.

"Coach Johnson has been talking about that all year. Defense is where it starts," Mitchell said. "Defense wins championships, and that's what he emphasizes. The offense is going to come. On defense, we just try to pay attention to detail, and that's what we try to do."

A jam by Dennis Harris brought the fans to their feet

Kinsley knocked down another jumper at the 7:20 mark to give LSU its largest lead of the game at 44-31 but a 6-0 spurt by the Sycamores trimmed the margin to seven at 44-37.

Indiana State got within six at 46-40 off Rashad Reed's trey with 4:31 left but LSU pushed the lead back to 12 off two free throws by Mitchell and six straight points by Spencer – two free throws and a pair of layups.

Harris put an exclamation point on his performance with a dunk to close out the scoring and now the Tigers are one win away from a trip to the Big Apple.

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