LSU Tigers knock off McNeese State Cowboys 79-52
BATON ROUGE — Freshman Jarell Martin, who has been hampered by an ankle injury in the first two months of the season, enjoyed his best outing in LSU’s 79-52 victory against McNeese State in a non-conference game Saturday.
Martin got his first career double-double with 14 points and a season-high 10 rebounds in 26 minutes. He knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and made all four of his foul shots. He opened the Tigers scoring with his first 3-pointer and made his second 3-point shot at the end of the first half.
“Jarell did an excellent job,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. “He opened the game up by knocking down a 3 we needed. He made some tough plays inside. He only had one offensive rebound, but he wound up with nine on the defensive end. It was a good night for him with the number of minutes he played.”
Martin suffered a sprained ankle in the first minute of the opening game at Massachusetts. He sat out two games before returning to the lineup. Martin has put together back-to-back double-figure scoring games for the first time. He scored 12 points in the preceding game against UAB.
“When McNeese was in the zone, we started passing the ball around to get them tired and try to break them down,” Martin said. “We started throwing it down low to Jordan (Mickey) and Johnny (O’Bryant) since they were bigger than the other guys.”
O’Bryant and Shavon Coleman were the top scorers for the Tigers (9-2) with 16 points each. O’Bryant made seven of his 11 field goal attempts. Coleman’s 16 points were a season-high. Mickey added 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
“We certainly didn’t get off to a great start like we would have liked,” Jones said. “McNeese did a great job of controlling the tempo for the first 10 to 12 minutes. In the last eight minutes, we caused some turnovers through our pressure and forced them to play faster.”
Ledrick Eackles was one of four Cowboys players to score in double figures with 13 points. Craig McFerrin had 12 points, and Desharick Guidry and Kevin Hardy each had ten points for McNeese (2-10), which has lost seven games in a row. The Cowboys shot just 23 percent (14-of-62) from the field.
“We came in and shot 23 percent,” McNeese coach Dave Simmons said. “If we could come in and shoot 40 percent, we could play with anyone on our schedule. For the most part, we did a good job defensively. LSU did start to get going when Shavon Coleman came off the bench.”
After playing somewhat lackadaisically for most of the opening half, LSU came to life over the final seven minutes. Trailing 17-16, the Tigers took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Anthony Hickey. That basket started a 26-8 run for LSU until halftime.
O’Bryant scored 10 of his 12 first-half points during this stretch. O’Bryant made back-to-back field goals after McNeese reduced its deficit to two points at 25-23. The Tigers scored the last 11 points of the half. O’Bryant sank two more baskets in that span.
Martin closed the outburst with a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to put LSU in front 42-25. Martin had 10 points and six rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.
“When LSU was making its run, there was a lot of defensive pressure,” Simmons said. “We turned the ball over a couple of times. When you get some easy baskets, your confidence level goes up. Once we get into our league, we will do much better.”
The Cowboys scored the first five points after halftime on three foul shots by Eackles and a field goal by McFerrin. The Tigers answered with six straight points on two foul shots by Andre Stringer and Martin and a basket by Mickey. LSU never led by fewer than 15 points the rest of the way.