It’s Miller Time Again: “Ace’s” 26 points lead LSU to 2-0 start in McMahon era

LSU gets past Arkansas St., 61-52; Looks to improve more vs. UNO next Thursday

Adam Miller scored 26 points, including four 3-pointers while playing 39 of a possible 40 minutes, to lead LSU past Arkansas State, 61-52, on Saturday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

KJ Williams added 15 points for LSU despite being forced to the bench early in the first half by early foul trouble. Williams, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound forward, picked up two early fouls and sat out the final 15 minutes.

LSU starting point guard Justice Hill added 11 points, all in the first half.

Omar El-Sheikh scored 17 points for Arkansas St., the Red Wolves only player to score in double figures.

LSU is now 2-0 under first-year head coach Matt McMahon. The Tiger return to action on Nov. 17 when it hosts UNO at 7 PM.

Arkansas St., which opened the season with an 86-55 win over Harding earlier this week, fell to 1-1.

LSU opened the season on Nov. 9 with a 74-63 win against Kansas City.

Williams, a fifth-year senior and preseason second team All SEC forward as selected by the coaches and by the media, scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half. He also hit three 3-pointers for the Tigers in the second half.

LSU had difficulty putting away a team with inferior talent for the second time this season.

“I would think from a fan’s perspective, that probably was not the most fun 40 minutes of basketball to watch there,” McMahon said. “But we are thankful to get the win. Don’t ever take that for granted.”

LSU and Arkansas St. both shot 39% from the field, but the Tigers held a substantial advantage in 3-point shooting, hitting 8 of 20 from behind the arc for 40% compared to the Red Wolves 25% (5-20) from long range.

“I thought our players really competed on the defensive end of the floor,” McMahon said. “Pleased with the field goal percentage defense. Really pleased with the three-point defense.  Again, too many second shot opportunities, but we were able to force some turnovers, which was good for us.”

LSU, during spurts of both halves against Arkansas St, showed improved offensive execution from its first game against Kansas City.

“When we executed, we got some pretty good looks at the basket.” McMahon said. “And I thought Adam Miller was fantastic. Guys did a good job screening for him and getting him free. And he stepped up and made some really big plays for us.”

Miller also led LSU in scoring with 18 points against Kansas City. Early on, at least, his offensive play and ability to score from outside as well as in transition and coming off screens in spaces all over the floor is a strong sign early in the development for the Tigers.

Miller missed all last season after suffering a severe injury, a torn ACL in his left knee.

“It’s really encouraging to see Ace playing as well as he is this early on in the season,” McMahon said.

LSU played 11 total players for the second game in a row. McMahon said all through preseason he would play only eight or nine players in his rotation.

“Some of that increased rotation tonight had to do with foul trouble in the first half. But we certainly have to get more flow,” he said. “And what I always have to remember here is these guys have never played together. So, we are just going to have to grind it out a bit here early while work to simply try to get better and more consistent at both ends of the floor.”

Arkansas St. outrebounded LSU, 35-34. The second-chance points LSU is allowing in its first two games is something the Tigers must correct sooner rather than later, McMahon said.

“I’m well aware that we’re in the SEC and the opponents are going to be a lot different when we get to January and February, so we’ve got make a lot of improvement there,” he said.

Unforced errors have also plagued LSU offensively so far early this season.

“The overall execution on the offensive end of the floor needs improvement,” McMahon said. “We have to eliminate most of these, really, unforced errors, that are sabotaging our efforts to close games.”

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