No. 25 Tigers shake off slow first half against Georgia Tech to improve to 9-0

ATLANTA – The LSU men’s basketball team ran its record to 9-0 on the season with a dominating second half performance to win going away, 69-53, over Georgia Tech in the opening game of the night session of the Holiday Hoopsgiving at State Farm Arena here Saturday.

LSU used a 14-0 run covering the final 1:40 of the first half and the first 86 seconds of the second half to rally from behind to begin to take control of the game.

Down, 34-30, at the half after being down by as much as 15 points in the opening stanza, the Tigers outscored Georgia Tech, 39-19, in the final 20 minutes. It was the second biggest win for LSU under Coach Will Wade away from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

It is the 12th time in the history of LSU basketball that the Tigers have started 9-0 but the first time since the 1999-2000 season. LSU as of mid-evening Saturday remained one of seven unbeaten teams left in Division I college basketball.

LSU held Georgia Tech to 6-of-22 from the field in the final 20 minutes (27.3 percent) and just 1-of-10 from three-pointer range.

Tari Eason had a monster second half for LSU, scoring 16 second half points to finish with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 5-of-7 at the line. Xavier Pinson had 13 points and six assists and Brandon Murray scored 10. While Darius Days did not have a good scoring night, he did finish with a game-high 10 rebounds.

Both teams struggled with offensive flow in the first half with the teams combining for 27 turnovers. LSU hit just 9-of-30 first half shots and 2-of-14 from the arc. Georgia Tech had a series of runouts off LSU misses and turnovers that boosted them to a 24-9 advantage with 6:50 to go in the first half.

LSU was able to whittle it down to six, but the Yellow Jackets made a push to get it back to 12 at 34-22 with 1:45 to go in the opening stanza.

But from there, Murray hit a layup, Days off a turnover got a layup and Eason and Pinson both made two free throws to put LSU down just four at intermission, 34-30. It was the fourth time this season the Tigers have been behind after 20 minutes.

It took a minute of the half before either team scored but Pinson off an offensive rebound scored to cut the game to two and his ensuing free throw off the foul but LSU within one at 34-33. Georgia Tech missed a three and Murray hit a three-pointer to give LSU the lead at 36-34.

The teams traded some points and Georgia Tech led 40-38 with 16:30 to play before LSU ran off eight points to go to a 46-40 advantage with 13:30 to go. The Yellow Jackets never got closer than five as LSU eventually moved the lead to double figures at 56-46 on an Alex Fudge second chance dunk.

The Tigers would lead by as much as 18 points in the final minutes.

In the second half, the Tigers had five steals and got 16 points off turnovers and had a 28-10 advantage in points in the paint. For the game, LSU had a 33-15 advantage in points off turnovers and a 41-29 advantage in rebounds, including 16-6 on the offensive boards.

Forward Jordan Usher led Georgia Tech with 15 points. The Yellow Jacket’s leading scorer, Michael Devoe, was held to 12 points, 11 points under his season average.

LSU returns home for a Tuesday night contest against Northwestern State at 6 p.m. in a game televised by the SEC Network and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network. Tickets are on sale online at LSUTix.net.

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