BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU Tigers wrapped up their pre-conference schedule on Saturday afternoon by making quick work of Bethune-Cookman in a 79-63 victory at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Charles Carmouche led the effort for LSU (9-2) with 17 points and seven rebounds. Carmouche connected on 60 percent of his field goal attempts on the day, and the Tigers shot 52.6 percent as a team in the win.
Starters Shavon Coleman (14 points) and Andrew Del Piero (10) also scored in double figures for the Tigers, while Anthony Hickey provided relief off the bench with 14 points and four steals in 28 minutes of action. Coleman led the team in the rebounding department by hauling in 12 boards in a double-double showing.
The Wildcats (5-10) fell despite a huge effort from Adrien Coleman, who dropped a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Alex Smith turned in a double-double for BCU with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but the Wildcats were unable to overcome a 36.8-percent shooting clip against the LSU defense.
LSU will now turn its focus toward Southeastern Conference play as it travels to Auburn on Wednesday night to kickoff league play at 8 p.m.
South Carolina Handles In-State Foe
COLUMBIA, S.C. - In their final non-conference contest of the year, South Carolina (10-3) defeated South Carolina State (4-10) 80-69 on Saturday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena. Four Gamecocks reached double figures in the effort, with senior forward Lakeem Jackson tallying 16 to lead the way.
Jackson's 16 points equaled a season-high and the forward grabbed eight boards as well. Earning his second start in a row, junior guard Brian Richardson scored 15 for his fifth straight double-digit scoring effort. Junior guard Brenton Williams recorded 14 and sophomore guard Damien Leonard added 10 points and a career-high eight rebounds in his first start of the season. Freshman forward Mindaugas Kacinas notched his third double-digit rebounding game with 10 and junior guard Eric Smith dished out seven assists.
Junior forward Matthew Hezekiah turned in game-highs of 24 points and 14 rebounds in the effort for the Bulldogs. Junior guard Adama Adams also scored in double figures, registering 12. South Carolina State did not hit a three pointer in the contest.
Hezekiah scored six of the first eight for the Bulldogs and the visitors jumped out early at 10-2 and held an advantage for more than half of the first half.
The Gamecocks finally took a lead at 21-19 with 7:20 remaining before halftime when Kacinas put back a Jackson miss. Hezekiah drained a jumper to put the Bulldogs back up 21-20, the last lead of the day for South Carolina State.
South Carolina scored eight unanswered to take control of the game. The spurt started with the first of Leonard's two 3s in the final five minutes of the half and ended with a drive to the basket by Smith. The run expanded the South Carolina advantage to seven at 28-21.
Kacinas scored on a tip in at the buzzer to send South Carolina to the locker room with a 37-29 upper hand.
Out of the gate in the second half, the Gamecocks scored on four of their first five possessions to claim a 45-33 lead, prompting the Bulldogs to take a timeout.
South Carolina stretched their lead to 13 at 50-37 just after the first media break of the half and the Bulldogs responded with an 11-4 run over the next 2:52 to cut the lead to six at 54-48.
With South Carolina State trying to rally, but getting no closer than six, the Gamecocks rattled off an 8-2 run to take a double-digit lead again. Williams scored two straight baskets, the second of which was a successful three-point play. Richardson hit his first 3 of the night on the next possession giving the Gamecocks a 12-point cushion at 67-55 with 6:41 on the clock.
On a pair of Richardson free throws, South Carolina took a 14-point lead, the largest of the game at 77-63. In the final 3:01 of the game, the Bulldogs could not get closer than nine and the Gamecocks recorded the 80-69 victory.
South Carolina starts conference play on Wed., Jan. 9, at 8 p.m. against Mississippi State. The game in Starkville, Miss., can be seen on ESPN3.
Alabama Downs Oakland With Strong Second Half
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama used strong performances from three starters and a big second half to pick up a win on Saturday, downing Oakland by a final score of 65-45 at home.
After a closely contested first half that ended with a six-point Alabama advantage, the Crimson Tide (8-5) kicked it up a notch in the second half to put the Grizzlies away. Trevor Releford had a solid shooting night and used it to drop a game-high 18 points for Bama, hitting 66 percent of his shot attempts on the day. Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper also scored in double figures for the Tide – Randolph with 15 points and Cooper with 11.
As a team, the Tide shot over 50 percent from the floor in the victory while limiting the Grizzlies (7-10 to just 27 percent shooting. Alabama out-rebounded Oakland 36 to 29 and also forced the Grizzlies into 13 turnovers on the evening.
Duke Mondy scored a team-high 11 points for Oakland, but the guard was held to just 3-of-10 shooting and turned the ball over four times. Travis Bader chipped in 10 points in the loss, and Matt Poches was the only other Grizzly to hit double-digits in the scoring column with 10 off the bench.
Alabama will now begin conference play when it travels to face No. 12 Missouri on Tuesday night.
Pressley's 26 Points Help Mizzou Escape With Close Win Over Bucknell
COLUMBIA, Mo. – No. 12 Missouri had to overcome a halftime deficit and a 25-point performance from Bucknell’s Mike Muscala, but the Tigers escaped Saturday’s showdown with the Bison with a 66-64 win.
Muscala’s team-high 25 came on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, and big man also hauled in 14 rebounds to complete the double-double effort. Fortunately for Mizzou (11-2), it had a star of its own to offset Muscala’s big game.
Phil Pressley hit 10 field goals of his own on his way to a game-high 26 points on Saturday afternoon, and he also chipped in with five assists and three rebounds. Pressley hit a trio of 3-pointers against the Bison (13-3) and Mizzou connected on five shots from long distance as a team. Both teams turned in similar shooting performances, with Missouri hitting on 42.9 percent of its field goals compared to 41.9 percent by Bucknell.
Laurence Bowers aided the Tigers in their winning effort with 16 points and eight rebounds. Missouri won the rebounding and turnover battles by slim margins, but in a game as close as this one those small advantages can be the difference between a win and a loss.
Mizzou is now set to begin competition in the Southeastern Conference on Tuesday night against Alabama in Columbia.
Arkansas Wins Final Non-Conference Showdown
FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas men's basketball team defeated the Delaware State Hornets by a score of 86-51 to close out the non-conference season with a 9-4 record.
Arkansas notched one of its biggest wins of the year with a 58-percent shooting clip. The Razorbacks drilled 10 3-pointers on the game while playing stingy defense on the other end of the floor. Arkansas (9-4) forced 16 turnovers on the evening and converted those miscues into 23 points on the other end.
BJ Young led the way for Arkansas with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Casey Walker scored a team-high 13 for Delaware State in the loss.