COLUMBIA, S.C. – Jarell Martin pumped in a career-high 18 points off the bench, and the LSU men’s basketball team ended a two-game losing streak with a 71-68 victory over South Carolina Saturday at Colonial Life Arena.
LSU (10-4, 1-1 SEC) secured its first SEC win and picked up its 10th win of the season. The Tigers have won four of the last five meetings over South Carolina (7-8, 0-2 SEC) in Columbia since the 2005-06 season.
For Martin, he was 5-of-6 from the floor and turned in a 7-for-8 effort at the foul line. The Baton Rouge native also collected six rebounds and a career-best five steals.
Jordan Mickey and Johnny O'Bryant III tacked on 13 points apiece for the Tigers. The duo combined for a 10-of-19 shooting clip. O’Bryant III has pieced together six straight 10-plus scoring performances, while Mickey has reached double figures in 13 of his 14 outings.
Andre Stringer bounced back from being held scoreless during the Tennessee game and came away with nine points from the bench.
Making only his second start of the season, Malik Morgan garnered a solid all-around with eight points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. The eight points matched Morgan’s second-highest scoring output of the season and whereas his four dimes were a season’s best. Shavon Coleman notched five points, six rebounds and two steals. The six rebounds tied a season-high for Coleman.
USC was led by Sindari Thornwell, who poured in a career-high 25 points. He made nine of his 13 field goal attempts. Tyrone Johnson totaled 15 points and Brenton Williams accounted for 11 points to give the Gamecocks three players in double figures.
With LSU ahead 46-44 at the 10:37 mark of the second half, the Tigers seized the momentum and ripped off 18 of the next 24 points over the next 4:45. O’Bryant III and Mickey hit three consecutive hook shots in the lane to ignite the run. Stringer came off a double screen and nailed a triple from the left baseline to push LSU’s lead to 55-47 with 8:16 remaining.
The Tigers snatched its largest lead at 64-50 with 5:45 left after Tim Quarterman and Stringer canned three-balls on consecutive possessions off feeds from O’Bryant III followed by a Martin free throw.
South Carolina reeled off nine straight points of its own and pulled back to 64-59 with 2:11 to go. Thornwell capped the Gamecocks flurry with a transition dunk and a jumper.
After Anthony Hickey drained two free throws, South Carolina made it 66-62 on a Williams triple off a friendly bounce from the rim.
O’Bryant III knocked down a trio of foul shots over a 7-second span to extend LSU’s advantage back to 69-62 with 42.3 seconds left on the clock. Morgan split four free throws down the stretch and Williams made another three-pointer at the buzzer for the final tally of 71-68.
As a team, LSU connected for 22-of-56 from the floor which included a 5-for-18 mark from three-point range. The Tigers knocked down 12-of-26 shots during the second half. LSU was 22-of-35 at the foul line, and the 35 free throw attempts were a season-high for LSU.
The Gamecocks secured a 20-of-48 shooting performance and made 4-of-11 behind the three-point line. South Carolina was 24-of-34 from the charity stripe.
The two teams traded eight ties and 12 lead changes during the first 28 minutes of the contest. LSU raced out to a quick 5-0 advantage aided by five Coleman points before the Gamecocks knotted the tally at 5-5 after Thornwell fired back with five points of his own.
Trailing 25-24 at the 3:39 mark of the opening half, the Tigers registered the next eight points started with a Morgan runner. LSU also received a traditional three-point play from Martin, while Mickey and Stringer hit free throws to allow the Tigers to take a 32-25 lead with 2:10 remaining. The Gamecocks ran off the final five points of the half to bring the score to 32-30 at halftime.
LSU continues its first of three SEC two-game road swings and travels to Ole Miss on Wednesday. Tip time is slated for 8 p.m., and the game will be carried by Cox Sports Television (CST), Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) and www.WatchESPN.com
The LSU Sports Radio Network will broadcast the game on Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will call the action.
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