BATON ROUGE -- Justin Hamilton and Storm Warren each compiled double-doubles as the LSU men's basketball team started a new winning streak and blitzed Ole Miss by an 81-55 margin Saturday at the Maravich Center in the SEC opener for both teams.
Hamilton exploded for 17 of his career-high 23 points along with 11 of his career-best 16 rebounds in the second half. Warren garnered 11 of his 15 points in addition to eight of his 11 rebounds during the opening stanza. It was Warren's 12th career double dip, first of the 2011-12 season. The duo combined for a crisp 16-of-28 from the floor.
Anthony Hickey buried four of his five three-point attempts to reach double figures for the first time since the Boise State game on December 10. He also distributed a career-high seven assists against zero turnovers. Andre Stringer tacked on 10 points and handed out five assists.
LSU (11-4, 1-0 SEC) was solid in all facets of the game as the Tigers garnered 16 assists on 29 baskets and shot 42.6 percent. LSU's defense limited Ole Miss (10-5, 0-1 SEC) to a 19-of-55 shooting clip. In the process, the Tigers held their ninth straight opponent under the 60-point barrier.
The 26-point margin is LSU's largest win during a conference opener since a 92-66 decision over Florida during the 1980-81 season when the Tigers won the SEC championship and went to the NCAA Final Four. All 10 players who saw action for LSU scored a point and nine of the 10 Tigers secured a rebound.
LSU led wire-to-wire and came out firing on all cylinders. The Tigers raced out to a 29-12 advantage over the first 12 minutes of the contest and made 12 of their first 24 shots. The quartet of Hamilton, Hickey, Warren and Ralston Turner contributed 26 of the team's 29 points. LSU's defense also was suffocating and forced Ole Miss to misfire on 18 off the first 22 offerings.
LSU carried a 44-24 lead into halftime and led by as many as 29, 63-34 at the 11:11 mark of the second half, after a pair of Hamilton free throws.
Terrance Henry and Jelan Kendrick posted eight points apiece to lead Ole Miss.
LSU opens a two-game road swing Wednesday at Alabama, who is receiving votes in the latest editions of the AP and ESPN/USA Today Top 25 polls. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and Cox Sports Television will carry the action live from Coleman Coliseum.
The LSU Sports Radio Network also will broadcast the game on 100.7 FM (The Tiger) in the Baton Rouge area. Jim Hawthorne, Kevin Ford and Ricky Blanton will call the action.
HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON
"I thought we played well. I thought it was probably as good as we have played in terms of execution offensively. We spent a lot of time trying to clean up a lot of things throughout the course of the week in terms of our offensive efficiency, passing, catching, feeding the posts and going inside-out. I thought Storm (Warren) and Justin (Hamilton) were really good when they needed to be in terms of going into this game we had two of our bullets down and obviously they had two of theirs (down). But all in all, anytime you can open up league play and play well and have everybody play, I think it is a positive."
On how the team has come together through adversity...
"I said this two days ago, I know what I need to know about this basketball team. We played a long time without Andre (Stringer). I didn't anticipate Johnny (O'Bryant) and Malcolm (White) being down (at the same time), but the bottom line is these guys understand. I thought going into this year was that we were going to be in a situation that if we played well, defended well and did all the little things which are big correctly, we would be able to withstand an injury or two. We got by tonight, and we will see what happens next game."
CENTER JUSTIN HAMILTON
On the game ...
"We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. They have a lot of really good players. We just wanted to play smart, and the guards did a good job of feeding us the ball. We did a good job of sharing the ball. We knew that we had to come out in the second half with the same intensity we had in the first half. We needed to put two halves together and make sure they didn't come back at all. We miss guys a lot like Malcolm (White) and Johnny (O' Bryant III). They're a big part of our team. Collectively, I think we all know that when our number is called, just be smart and play hard no matter when or however long you're in."
FORWARD STORM WARREN
On missing players ...
"Being short-handed, we knew we had to play smart, especially me. I had to make sure I didn't get in any foul trouble. We knew we had to play smart, help each other out and stay under control because we had to play a lot of minutes. We wanted to come out, we wanted to execute and we wanted to limit our mistakes every game moving forward. We also want to execute and sustain the defense that we have."
GUARD ANTHONY HICKEY
On the game ...
"We're trying to limit our turnovers and keep them low. They (the post players) were doing a good job on offense and getting offensive rebounds ... (We had) good offense and good execution."