That makes three in a row now for the Tigers as they head down the stretch of SEC play. It was essentially a win that was brought to us by the three forwards, Justin Hamilton, Johnny O'Bryant, and Storm Warren. At different points in the game, each of them went on mini-runs of their own where they either got LSU a lead or increased it by multiple scores. This win moves LSU to .500 in SEC play with a 6-6 league record, and 16-10 overall.
In the first half, it was Storm Warren that kept LSU from falling too far behind. A key basket with about three minutes left ended a seven minute scoring drought that saw LSU committing numerous turnovers. It wasn't long after that he added another four points on top of that. He later finished with 13 total points and 8 rebounds.
Johnny O'Bryant was next, as he took over for a stretch in the middle of the second half. Although he was only credited with two blocks for the game, his defensive pressure was great during this four minute stretch. He, like Warren in the first half, was the one collecting rebounds on both sides of the court and scoring both inside and outside. South Carolina was unable to match his physical size and style of play, and during this run the lead swelled to 10.
Justin Hamilton, as you would expect, went on his run towards the end of the game. For much of the game, he was effective, but wasn't getting a whole lot of offensive touches(giggity?). Towards the end of the game, the guards realized that they needed to have him score down low once the shot clock was going down. As time was running down, he also found a lot of his 18 points coming from the free throw line. He finished a perfect 8-8 from the stripe.
Anthony Hickey Jr. also had a very good game. I didn't realize while watching it how much he was actually involved, but he accumulated 10 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. As this season has progressed, it seems like whenever we win, I find myself typing out these huge stat lines for Hickey. I think his importance on this team is evident, since we tend to struggle when he has games with lots of goose eggs from any category.
It wasn't all perfect though. Despite getting what looks like a comfortable win, the first half from the ~14:00 minute mark until the ~3:00 mark was just ugly. The defense started to get slow and allow some open jump shots. The offensive rebounds started to go to the Gamecocks and they were able to score some easy baskets down low as well.
Offensively, LSU compounded the problems with numerous turnovers. The Tigers finished with 17 total turnovers, but 11 of them came in the first half, mostly during that eleven minute stretch. Surprisingly, LSU finished with 17 assists, which is encouraging since they collected most of those in the second half when they took control of the game.
Up next for the Tigers is a home game this Wednesday with the Georgia Bulldogs. Before the Dawgs make it to Baton Rouge, they have a home game themselves with Vanderbilt tomorrow.