SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Johnny O’Bryant III’s first trip to the city by the bay proved fruitful – even without much sightseeing.
O’Bryant scored 13 points, Jarell Martin scored 14 of his 16 in the first half, and LSU beat San Francisco 71-63 in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night.
Shavon Coleman added 13 points as the Tigers (20-13) won their first NIT game in 12 years.
”We saw some things driving through,” O’Bryant said. ”But this was all business for us.”
The win gave the Tigers another chance to travel as they will visit top-seeded SMU in the second round.
”After the game me and Andre (Stringer) said we have more life to us,” said Coleman, one of two seniors for LSU. ”This felt like it was a postseason game.”
Cole Dickerson scored 24 points to lead the Dons (21-12). Tim Derkson added 12 points.
”They had a good year,” Dons coach Rex Walters said. ”We talked about what we accomplished. I don’t think a lot of people felt we would win 21 games.”
San Francisco’s Matt Glover was called for a flagrant foul after officials went to the replay with 9:33 remaining to play. Stringer made the ensuing free throws, keying 9-0 run that put LSU ahead 61-45 less than 90 seconds later.
”That’s the rule,” Walters said. ”I can’t see how a guy who is trying to fight through traffic could be called for a flagrant, but that’s what happened. We had our chances.”
Anthony Hickey and Tim Quarterman hit 3-pointers 7 seconds apart to cap the spurt.
”I draw a lot of double teams and that leaves guys open,” O’Bryant said. ”If I can get them the ball, I know they’ll make it. It was a different game in the second half.”
After making just 2 of 12 from long range in the first half, the Tigers went 6 of 10.
”We have good shooters on this team,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. ”We were more patient in the second half and got better looks.”
Stringer was 2 of 3 from 3-point range, tying him with Torris Bright (237) for second on LSU’s all-time list.
Jordan Mickey added a blocked shot for 102 on the season, the second Tigers player, with Shaquille O’Neal, to block as many in a single season.
Martin did all his scoring, adding six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots, in 25 minutes. He was 7 of 11 from the field despite playing sparingly the final 18:44.
”He’s a confident basketball player,” Jones said. ”He had to play quality minutes for us this year and we’re reaping the benefits.”
Hickey’s lay-up in the closing seconds of the first half gave the Tigers a 33-30 lead at the break.
Jones and Walters also coached against each other when both were in the Sun Belt Conference. Jones was at North Texas and Walters at Florida Atlantic.