Monday night at the PMAC, Southeastern Louisiana’s basketball team tossed a three-guard attack at LSU (6-2).
Working without forward Dennis Harris (injury), senior Tasmin Mitchell moved from small forward to power forward for the first time this season.
While it is a position switch that won’t happen often this year, Mitchell showed that playing the four-spot, where he spent all of last season, is something the forward has not lost touch of.
Mitchell scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds through the first 20 minutes of action. He then doubled his point total in the second half and finished with 18 rebounds, a career-high.
“I think he’s a hell of a college basketball player,” said head coach Trent Johnson. “Nothing he does surprises me.”
For Mitchell, the night was nothing more than hard work paid off.
“I was just at the right place at the right time,” he said. “I kind of know my team’s shots. I am able to go where I need to: left, right, or free-throw line. I’ve been trying to practice that for a long time.”
In the first half the teams were tied six times and the lead changed five times.
After taking a 34-31 lead into the locker room, the Tigers pulled together, pulled away and never trailed again.
So, when head coach Trent Johnson talked with his team after the game, the message was short and to the point.
“That’s us,” Johnson said. “That is what we are capable of. They know we beat a good team.”
Guard Bo Spencer, who has battled both ankle and wrist injuries this season, added 21 points, five assists and two steals in 39 minutes of action.
“I was healthier, and I came out and played my game,” he said.
Storm Warren, who has been the Tigers most reliable man on the inside, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season.
While the finish was strong, the first half was not.
SLU center Patrick Sullivan, matched up on Warren, recorded 14 of the Lions’ 31 points and nine of the teams’ 16 rebounds through the first frame.
After some words from Johnson at halftime, Warren came awake.
“Me stepping up,” responded Warren when asked the turning point of the game. “[Sullivan] came out ready, and as the game went on the guys rode me. I had to come back and play our game.”
After a first half where Warren recorded six points and five rebounds, the sophomore finished with not just another double-double - but a big-time defensive statement.
The Monroe, La. native held Sullivan, who proved to be the key to SLU’s offensive success, to only five points and four rebounds over the final 20 minutes.
“Storm showed too much respect [in the first half],” Johnson said.
LSU shot a season’s best 47.3 percent from the floor (26-for-55), seeing the big three – Mitchell, Warren and Spencer – all hit double-digits in scoring. Defensively, the Tigers held the Lions to just 29 second-half points and 11 total turnovers.
“It’s a confidence booster, because we finished strong,” said Mitchell, who has scored over 24 points in each of the last three outings. “We have been beating teams, but we haven’t been finishing strong.”