Simmons 24 points leads LSU past Oral Roberts, 100-77
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) LSU followed up a solid overall performance against Gardner-Webb three days earlier with a quick start against Oral Roberts on Saturday.
The Tigers had a 20-point lead midway through the first half and coasted to a 100-77 non-conference victory over the Eagles.
LSU took command early in the opening half. Holding a five-point advantage at 10-5, the Tigers held Oral Roberts to only two baskets over a five-minute stretch. Meanwhile, LSU scored 20 points, fueled by a pair of Antonio Blakeney 3-pointers.
A 3-pointer by Josh Gray with 11:25 before halftime put LSU on top 30-9. The Tigers had no less than a 15-point lead the rest of the first half. Obi Emegano's lone first-half field goal left Oral Roberts behind 48-32 at the break.
''We needed to get off to a good start and we were able to do that,'' LSU coach Johnny Jones said. ''Offensively, we were clicking. On the defensive end, we got the necessary stops. We rebounded the ball for the most part from the start and we were able to finish the half strong.''
Ben Simmons was the leading scorer for LSU with 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field and scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half. Simmons had nine rebounds and seven assists and scored 11 consecutive points for the Tigers (6-4) in the second half.
Four more LSU players scored in double figures. Craig Victor and Keith Hornsby each had 13 points, while both Blakeney and Gray had 12 points. Victor made his first start of the season after becoming eligible following a transfer from Arizona.
''Everyone is back on the floor and healthy,'' Simmons said. ''There are no more excuses for the way we played in the past. We have to call each other accountable and we've been doing that. I tried to be more assertive and attack the rim in the second half. I was trying to get to the rim and find the open man.''
Freshman Kris Martin was the top scorer for Oral Roberts (8-5) with a season-high 18 points. Emegano had 16 points, while Albert Owens had 12 and Brandon Conley 11.
''LSU exposed us in a lot of ways, especially on the defensive end,'' Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said. ''We didn't defend and didn't take away the paint and they made us pay. They got some easy baskets early in the game and then they got some confidence and made some shots from the perimeter.''
The Eagles never threatened to the Tigers following halftime. Two field goals by Simmons gave LSU a 20-point advantage at 64-44 with 13:55 remaining in the game. Martin made a pair of 3-pointers to bring Oral Roberts within 14 points.
However, Simmons answered with another seven points - two foul shots, a three-point play and a field goal. That flurry of scoring from Simmons gave the Tigers a 71-52 lead with 11:35 remaining in the game. LSU's advantage was at least 17 points for the rest of the game.
Oral Roberts: The Eagles have lost three consecutive games for the first time since last December - falling to Oklahoma and Missouri State. The Eagles' three straight defeats a year ago came at the hands of Oklahoma, Memphis and Missouri State. Both streaks came on the road.
LSU: Shooting the basketball continued to be the most telling statistic for LSU under coach Johnny Jones. The Tigers, who made 54 percent of their field goal attempts, have a 6-0 record this season and a 61-5 record since Jones became coach when they have outshot the opponent. Oral Roberts shot 48 percent from the field.
PUTTING UP POINTS
For the second time in four games, LSU reached the 100-point mark. The Tigers defeated North Florida 119-108 earlier this month. A dunk by Brandon Sampson with 42 seconds remaining gave LSU 100 points against Oral Roberts. It has been 16 seasons since the Tigers scored at least 100 points in two games. During the 1999-2000 season, LSU defeated Grambling 112-37 and Wyoming 103-86.
Obi Emegano, who entered the game with a 23.3-point per game average, never found a rhythm. Emegano, who was primarily defended by Antonio Blakeney and Keith Hornsby, finished with 16 points - seven below his average. Emegano missed eight of his 13 field goal attempts. A 42-percent 3-point shooter, Emegano got off just one shot from behind the 3-point line and missed it.
For the second straight game, LSU had five players score at least ten points. In the victory against Gardner-Webb, Keith Hornsby had a team-high 14 points. Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney each had 11 points, while both Aaron Epps and Craig Victor had 10. All but Epps were in double figures scoring against Oral Roberts. Josh Gray replaced Epps as the fifth player with at least ten points.
Oral Roberts plays at New Mexico State on Monday.
LSU plays American at home Tuesday.