BATON ROUGE - Shavon Coleman made the most of his first career start and exploded for 23 of his career-best 25 points during the first half as the LSU men's basketball team posted an impressive 73-48 victory over McNeese State Tuesday at the Maravich Center.
The last time a LSU player posted a 20-point first half was Tasmin Mitchell with 23 versus Auburn back on January 20, 2010. Coleman buried 10-of-16 from the floor and also secured 10 rebounds en route to his first career double-double.
LSU (2-0) had 10 of its 13 players who saw action score a point and shot 44.1 percent from the floor highlighted by a 16-for-33 effort during the first half. The Tigers claimed a 50-31 rebounding edge which included 20 offensive boards.
Defensively, LSU limited McNeese State (1-1) to a 16-for-54 clip for a paltry 29.6 percent. The Cowboys only mustered one assists and were forced into 18 turnovers.
Anthony Hickey canned a trio of three-balls for nine points. He also dished out six assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Andrew Del Piero chipped in a career-high seven points, all during the second half. He also hauled in four rebounds in addition to a tallying a block and steal in his eight minutes of action.
The Cowboys were led by Kevin Hardy, who scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half.
LSU never trailed and seized momentum of the contest after the first media timeout of the opening half. Ahead 11-9, the Tigers ripped off eight straight points to push their advantage to double figures at the 11:58 mark. Coleman ignited the run with three lay-ups in a span of four possessions as LSU made nine of its first 12 field goal attempts.
McNeese State pulled back to within 20-16 with 7:48 left after a Jordan Wells three-point play was followed by a pair of Hardy free throws. The Tigers snatched control right back and reeled off 11 quick points to go ahead 31-16 with 4:50 remaining. Coleman and Hickey provided all the points aided by a trio of three-pointers.
LSU dominated the interior and held a 20-4 advantage in the paint during the first half as the Tigers took a 38-22 advantage into the locker room. The Coleman-Hickey duo provided 32 points on 13 field goals fueled by five triples.
LSU came out strong to start the second half and tallied a 10-4 run capped by a Hammink three-pointer to go up 48-26 with 15:56 on the clock. The Tigers notched its largest lead, 67-36 at the 7:39 mark, after a Stringer three-pointer. Del Piero scored LSU's final seven points to wrap up the 73-48 win.
LSU continues its six-game homestand to start the 2012-13 campaign next Tuesday versus Northwestern State. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. from the Maravich Center, and the game will be carried live on Cox Sports Television. Tickets can be purchased online at LSUtix.net or by calling the LSU Athletics Ticket Office at (225) 578-2184.
The LSU Sports Radio Network also will broadcast the game on Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge area and inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live. Jim Hawthorne, Ricky Blanton and Kevin Ford will call the action.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/basketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsubasketball along with @lsubasketball on Twitter.
LSU HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
"I thought the guys got off to a good start tonight. I thought we were playing a very game basketball team, a group that came in here, obviously two years ago, I think took LSU, our basketball program, into overtime. I thought those guys came in tonight very focused and on a mission. I thought our guys did a great job from the onset of withstanding their runs and the pressure that they applied. I thought that we stayed with the game and right there in the end, right prior to the half, making a little bit of a run on our own to get a little cushion going in there at halftime. I'm very pleased with the effort of our whole team, and especially Shavon out the gate coming in, I thought played extremely well in the absence of Johnny (O'Bryant III) and although he scored 23 points in the first half, I thought he was able to get everything out of our system in what we were doing and things that he has been doing everyday in practice, I thought he stuck to it and was very pleased with his effort out there tonight."
On Forward Shavon Coleman's big night...
"He's a very unselfish player. Obviously, he had an opportunity to take advantage of making plays there tonight. He really got going. I thought he took probably one ill-advised shot with about 47 seconds left in the first half. I think he got a little heat check. He had hit a couple of long shots, and he jumped up and took one there where we could have possibly finished the half off a little bit better. He's very capable going inside, outside. He's long, lengthy. He's really good in terms of getting into the gaps and really getting to the basket, and I think you were able to see that tonight as well."
On tonight's game as far as offensive and defensive sets...
"We'll obviously have to add some things. I probably haven't had enough time to implement the other looks we'd like to give our opponents. The thing with us on the defensive end of the floor, we're going to have to try and keep people off balance. The thing where I think we've improved is not allowing straight line drives to the basket. I think our guards have done a much better job in terms of their on-ball defense, and I think they did a great job of that in the first half tonight as well. That's were we've got to really continue to improve. In the post area, we're obviously going to have to try to double down on some people to help our post guys, but I like the guys' effort and the pressure that they put on people tonight. I think it's indicative, when you look, they only had one assist or something tonight. I think that's really a credit to our post guys when they were running a lot of ball screens, forcing the ball up the floor, because they were great help defenders and our guards were able to get back under them and keep them under control."
Forward Shavon Coleman
On an opportunity for players step up after Johnny O'Bryant was injured ...
"We know that Johnny wasn't going to play tonight so we all talked about what we need to do to get the job done tonight and get the win. We all just had to do certain things and play as a team. That is what we did. We came out and got the job done."
On his first half ...
"He told me to keep playing and don't let the scoreboard distract you. "
On his posting up ...
"I just felt like I had a match up on him. He was playing weak on me. He wasn't blocking up on me so I just took my advantage. I hit him before he could hit me. Then I just went straight up and exploded up.
Guard Anthony Hickey
On returning to the starting lineup ...
"I am going to go out there with energy and do whatever my team needs me to do. I am glad that I was out there early because Shavon got hot. I was able to feed the hot man. I said, there is going to be a different player that is going to have a good game. It is usually Charles or Johnny. Tonight it was Shavon, it just how good the offense is.
Guard Charles Carmouche
On Andrew Del Piero's Play ...
"We were happy for him. He comes to practice everyday and works hard. I think he has only been playing basketball for two or three years. He has come a long way. Just to see him out there and to show the crowd he is ready to play, it is big. I am glad he was able to get on the scoreboard tonight and make some things happen out there."
McNeese St. Head Coach Dave Simmons
On tonight's performance...
"The biggest thing is that we're very young. We got off to a good start. Everybody's talking about LSU's talent, and LSU does have talent. They've got guys who can shoot the ball. They've got guys that can rebound. I told the kids that this is a process. Nobody likes to come in and get beat the old fashion way, but we have to get better. We have to get scoring from all the guys. Right now, the biggest thing is not about this loss but what we can do to correct ourselves. Rebounding is a problem right now, and I told the guys the team we play a team Thursday that may be better than the team we played tonight. The team next week may be better than the next. It's a learning process. We've been here before as coaches. We just have to get these young men to continue to believe in themselves, and we will get better. Like I said, we need to find our chemistry. We need to find guys where we can put a good combination together. Without two guys who are obviously sitting at home and hopefully they watched the game and saw what it's going to take to get us at that level that we were last year. It's going to be okay. I told the guys to get their heads up because it's a long season. It's not a sprint but a marathon. As long as we get to where we need to be at the end of the season, we'll be great. We will look back on this game as a motivation. Now, we have to go to work. Obviously that's the biggest thing. We have to turn around and keep looking forward.
On the starter's performances ...
"We expect those guys to give us some points, and it didn't happen tonight. You have to give credit to LSU because of that. Jeremie [Mitchell] had some good looks. They just didn't go down for him. We just have to keep our guys believing in themselves. They're going to be fine, and we just have to keep them going in the right direction. The biggest thing is when you look 0-for-12 [from the three-point line] and again Dontae [Cannon] we have to look at what we did offensively. We helped him get a few more shots. The biggest thing is that we have to go back to work. We have a good team, but it's very young. We knew that going into this, and this was the toughest schedule since I've been at McNeese State that we'll face this year. We just got to look back at it and keep working hard. We've been here before. Guys have to keep believing and working hard. That's the biggest thing we have to do as a team. We're 1-1 right now. We lost a game tonight. Obviously, it's not a game that you're proud of, but we know where we want to go. Keep looking for your goals and at the end of the day we want to win our conference race. That means more to us than this game, but obviously we want to play a lot better than we played tonight."