Simmons leads LSU to 79-51 win over American
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Throughout first half, LSU had its problems with American's half-court offense.
But the Tigers adjusted on defense and Ben Simmons continued his dominant play, scoring 23 points with six assists and three steals to help LSU pull away for a 79-51 win over American on Tuesday night.
LSU opened the second half on a 15-2 run, pulling away for good as American went more than five minutes without a field goal before Washington made a jumper with 14:35 to play.
Simmons and Hornsby accounted for 13 of the 15 Tigers points. Hornsby's third field goal in the stretch put LSU ahead 51-33 with 15 minutes to play. The Eagles' trailed by 17 points the rest of the game.
The Eagles, who missed just five first-half field goal attempts, made only 7 of 27 shots in the final 20 minutes. The Tigers went into halftime leading by just five but, fewer than seven minutes into the second half, LSU led 57-35.
''We knew it would be a different offensive set that we haven't had to face all year long,'' LSU coach Johnny Jones said. ''I commend our guys for our halftime adjustments that we were able to make. We got stops and held them to some 25 percent shooting from the field.''
Simmons was 8 of 13 from the field and 7 of 9 from the foul line. He scored nine as the Tigers (7-4) extended their lead to 22 points.
''It was difficult for me in the first half because I had to play the full shot clock,'' Simmons said. ''American cut and got buckets so you have to remain disciplined. We really picked it up in the second half.''
Craig Victor II scored 12 of his season-high 14 points in the first half, Aaron Epps finished with 11 points and Keith Hornsby added 10 for LSU.
LSU made 32 of 62 (61.5) field goals attempts.
''Guarding American was a new challenge for us,'' Hornsby said. ''We hadn't faced a team that runs the Princeton offense. It tested our communication. They shot about 72 percent in the first half. It was a good test for the team we are right now as we try to improve defensively.''
Jesse Reed led American (2-9) with 12 points. James Washington scored 11.
''We were overmatched,'' American coach Mike Brennan said. ''We're young, but it's good to go against a team like that and hang in there for about a half. So, there are a few positives you can take away. We've got to rest, recuperate and get ready for league play.''
American controlled the pace early and led 26-22 with 6:33 in the first half. The Tigers scored the next 12 points, including four apiece by Epps and Victor.
American shot 72.2 percent from the field in the first half, but LSU converted 12 Eagles' turnovers into 16 points.
American: The Eagles remained winless in games against current members of the Southeastern Conference. American is 0-11 against present SEC teams. Three of those 11 losses have come against Florida.
LSU: The Tigers have won each of their last three games by 20 points. LSU defeated Gardner-Webb 78-57 and Oral Roberts 100-77 in its two previous games. The last time the Tigers won three consecutive games by at least 20 points was 2007-08 when they beat Troy 92-57, Cal State Fullerton 84-63 and Grambling 87-41.
For the second time in three games, LSU held its opponent to fewer than 60 points. The Tigers allowed less than 60 points in only five games all of last season. American committed 22 turnovers, which equaled the most by a LSU opponent this season. Marquette also had 22 turnovers against the Tigers last month. LSU was credited with a season-high 14 steals - three each by Ben Simmons and Craig Victor.
TALE OF TWO HALVES
American knocked down 72 percent of its field goal attempts (13-of-18) in the first half. The Eagles were 4-of-8 on 3-pointers before halftime but missed 11 of their 13 shots from behind the 3-point line in the second half.
GOOD AT HOME
LSU is 7-0 at home this season - all by double figures. The Tigers posted 11-point victories against McNeese State (81-70) and North Florida (119-108). However, LSU is 0-4 away from home with neutral site losses to Marquette and North Carolina State and road defeats against College of Charleston and Houston.
American plays at Loyola (Maryland) on Dec. 30.
LSU plays Wake Forest at home on Dec. 29.