BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — After coming close in two opportunities against ranked teams earlier this season, LSU finally put together a complete effort against an opponent whose first-ever stint in the AP Top 25 may come to an end.
Tremont Waters had 20 points and seven assists, and LSU ended No. 24 Furman’s dream start to the season with a 75-57 victory on Friday night.
Last month, LSU had a nine-point advantage with three minutes to play against then-No. 14 Florida State, but the Seminoles rallied down the stretch and beat the Tigers in overtime. Earlier this month, LSU couldn’t protect a 15-point second half-lead and lost at then-No. 24 Houston.
“This was a good win,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “We did a good job on the backboards and we did a good job contesting their 3s. We only turned it over three times in the second half and that’s where we were able to get our separation. I’m proud of how we played.”
Waters, who came off the bench for the second straight game, scored eight points over the final six minutes as LSU closed out the game with a 14-4 run.
“It feels really good beating a Top-25 team,” Waters said. “For my team, I don’t mind coming off the bench. Obviously, no one wants to come off the bench, but that’s what I have to do. Coach (Wade) said my time will come back around and I will get back in the starting lineup.”
Skylar Mays scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, Kavell Bigby-Williams had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Naz Reid had nine points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers (9-3).
Andrew Brown scored 15 points to lead the Paladins (12-1), whose season-opening run included road wins over defending national champion Villanova and Loyola-Chicago, which made the Final Four last season.
Jordan Lyons had 13 points and Alex Hunter had 12 for Furman. The Paladins made just 38 percent of their field-goal attempts (21 of 56) and were out-rebounded 40-22.
“LSU played an extremely physical game,” Furman coach Bob Richey said. “They’ve got a lot of size and they took advantage of it. They doubled us up on the glass and had 50 points in the paint. It’s a pretty simple game plan. They were able to get it up on the rim, chase it and then get some put-backs.”
LSU took control of the game in the first four minutes of the second half, when they went on a 12-3 run to go ahead 43-30. Mays, Bigby-Williams and Reid combined for all 12 points. Furman got no closer than five points the rest of the game.
LSU committed 14 turnovers in the first half but still led 31-27 at the break. The Tigers shot 54 percent from the field (13 of 24) and held a 20-11 rebounding edge.
Waters has been productive in his two games off the bench. He had 18 points in 30 minutes in last Saturday’s win over Saint Mary’s. Against Furman, he played 35 minutes and all of his seven assists came in the second half. Waters did not have more than five assists in any of the Tigers’ previous six games.
STOPPING THE STARS
Entering the game, Lyons and Matt Rafferty were averaging a combined 35 points per game for Furman. The Paladins’ top two scorers collected just 22 points against LSU. Lyons went 5 of 16 from the field with Mays guarding him most of the game. Rafferty, who was averaging 17 points, was held to nine, failing to reach double figures for the first time this season.
LSU: The Tigers’ starting post players, the 6-foot-11 Bigby-Williams and the 6-foot-10 Reid, were a combined 8 of 13 from the field. LSU led for all but five minutes of the game.
Furman: The Paladins couldn’t extend their winning streak in their first game against a Power Five opponent this season.
Furman: The Paladins play their last nonconference game of the season at East Tennessee State on Dec. 29.
LSU: The Tigers will complete their nonconference schedule with a home game against Louisiana-Monroe next Friday.
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