With no Cook in the kitchen (yet), Williams III sizzles in second half to lead LSU past Alabama State, 74-56

Freshman point guard Mike Williams III dominated in the second half, equalling a season-high with 15 points to lead four Tigers in double figures in the comeback win over Alabama State on Wednesday night. PHOTO BY MICHAEL BACIGALUPI

From all indications, LSU will at last have Jalen Cook back in the fold on Saturday when it takes on No. 19 Texas in Houston on Saturday.

Cook, the junior transfer from Tulane who began his playing career at LSU three seasons ago before transferring to the Green Wave, transferred back to LSU this season and was expected to start at point guard and lead the Tigers with his near 20-point scoring average and all-around strong point guard play.

But Cook was denied eligibility on Nov. 1 by the NCAA and LSU has been waiting on the NCAA to rule on its appeal since with no indication of when he might return because of the vagueness of how the NCAA deals with such matters.

But, earlier in the day on Wednesday, an Ohio district court judge issued a restraining order to players in Cook’s predicament. For a while in the afternoon leading up to the tip off in the PMAC against Alabama State, it looked like LSU coach Matt McMahon and the Tigers would have Cook dressed and ready to play against the Hornets.

In Ohio vs NCAA on Wednesday, Judge John Preston Bailey issued a temporary restraining order (14 days) granting immediate eligibility to any college athlete in Cook’s situation – any college athlete seeking eligibility via a multi-transfer waiver.

However, it was later determined Cook would not likely be able to suit up first until LSU’s next game (on Saturday vs. Texas).

Call it a temporary setback.

But Mike Williams III, LSU’s freshman starting point guard (in place of Cook every game so far this season) took over the game in the second half, as the Tigers rallied from a four-point halftime deficit to double up Alabama State in scoring in the second half led by Williams’ season-high tying 15 points to down the Hornets, 74-56.

Alabama State (4-5) led 34-30 at halftime.

CJ Hines and TJ Madlock hit 3-pointers early in the second half to help the Hornets maintain their lead, 40-35, for the first three minutes on the second stanza.

But then Williams led LSU (6-4) on a 13-0 run as he scored eight points, including two 3-pointers, and the Tigers jumped ahead 48-40.

Later in the half, LSU made six of eight shots and extended its lead to 70-54 with five minutes remaining. LSU scored only six points in the final five minutes but held Alabama State to two minutes over that span.

LSU shot 57.7% and made seven 3-pointers in the second half. Alabama State shot 29.6% after halftime and was outscored 44-22.

Jordan Wright had 13 points with five rebounds and six assists for the Tigers (6-4). Jalen Reed added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Trae Hannibal had a personal season-high 11 points, including an eye-popping slam dunk.

LSU led 11-5 to start the game but Alabama State rallied to take a 16-15 lead. There were three ties and seven lead changes in the first half, the last on an 8-0 run by the Hornets that gave them the 34-30 lead at halftime.

Madlock started the run with a three-point play and Hines capped it off with a layup and a 3-pointer. Madlock scored 15 points in the first half.

Madlock finished with 18 points, Isaiah Range scored 15 and Hines added 13 for Alabama State (4-5). They each made three of the Hornets’ nine 3-pointers.

After the game, McMahon said admitted there was a lot of confusion on Wednesday surrounding the status of Cook but said he was confident Cook would be in dressed and ready to go when the Tigers take on Texas on Saturday in The Halal Guys Showcase in Houston.

“That is our expectation,” McMahon said.

“He will have two good days of preparation here, Thursday and Friday, and my understanding is that he is fully cleared and ready to go on Saturday. There was a lot of confusion throughout the afternoon and evening, and there was not much clarity in the right path. My understanding is he will be locked in and ready to go for Saturday, and I am really happy for him.”

Again on Wednesday night, LSU played inconsistently as it has all season to this point, but McMahon said he liked the fire he saw from his team in the second half.

“I was really excited about our second-half performance there. I really loved the energy and the effort the guys came out of the locker room with,” McMahon said.

“I thought that we were able to be a little more disruptive in our full-court pressure there and had some great individual performances from guys who really stepped forward and earned their time tonight. We can go through each of them, but I thought that Jordan Wright with six assists and zero turnovers was huge. Mike Williams III was really more aggressive to start the second half. I thought that he passed up some opportunities in the first half, got us going, and hit some big shots for us. That is the shooter I believe he is capable of being for us.

“Trae Hannibal’s energy and defensive effort was tremendous. Derek Fountain, Jalen Reed, I can go down the line. I thought that Hunter Dean came in and gave us a physical presence on the floor and was fantastic on the glass and his ball-screen coverage. All in all, a strong 20 minutes and something we hope to build on going forward,” he said.

Score by Period


Alabama St. Stats


GAME PCT36.134.637.5
THIS HALF228-275-141-511697
HALF PCT29.635.720.0

ASU Offense

Last FG02:12 LAYUP #35 OKON,U (56-72)
Last Lead40-39 @ 2nd-16:25
Largest Lead5 @ (40-35)

ASU Team Highs

Alabama State Box

LSU Stats


2*WILLIAMS III,M156-103-50-0133232
GAME PCT52.139.165.2
THIS HALF4415-267-157-1022696
HALF PCT57.746.770.0

Team Stats

Alabama State HornetsLSU Tigers
Field Goal %36.152.1
Three Point %34.639.1
Free Throw %37.565.2
Offensive Rebounds117
Defensive Rebounds1930
Total Turnovers1314
Points Off Turnovers1422
Fast Break Points1114
Points in Paint1626
Technical Fouls00
Flagrant Fouls00
Largest Lead518
Team Stats
author avatar
Todd Horne

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