No. 23 LSU gets past South Alabama 78-66

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Ben Simmons scored 23 points and Antonio Blakeney had 22 to lead No. 23 LSU to a 78-66 win over South Alabama in a regional round of the Legends Classic on Thursday night.

Simmons, who also had a season-high 16 rebounds, made 9 of 14 from the field for the Tigers (3-0). Blakeney hit on four 3-pointers.

LSU did not allow South Alabama to pull within single digits in the second half. Three 3-pointers over a 2 1/2-minute stretch by Blakeney helped the Tigers go ahead 55-36 with 14:40 remaining.

Backup LSU point guard Josh Gray had 11 points, while starting center Elbert Robinson had a career-best 10.

Nick Stover led South Alabama (1-2) with 13 points. Don MuepoKelly came off the bench and contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds. Georgi Boyanov had 12 points, while Ken Williams scored 10.

Simmons had 13 first-half points for the Tigers, but bench players were responsible for their 40-28 lead. Midway through the first half, South Alabama got two baskets from Tafari Whittingham to reduce its deficit to 23-19.

LSU answered with six straight and Gray's two field goals put the Tigers ahead 27-19. A basket by Robinson gave LSU its first double-digit lead of the game with 8:25 before halftime.

Later in the first half, a jumper by Boyanov brought the Jaguars within six at 34-28. After a field goal by Simmons, backup center Brian Bridgewater made a basket in the lane and two foul shots to give the Tigers their 12-point halftime advantage.

Stover made three field goals to help the Jaguars get within 10 at 57-47 with 11:01 remaining. But Simmons countered with three straight baskets to give LSU a comfortable 16-point advantage. The Tigers' lead remained between 11 and 16 points the rest of the game.


South Alabama: The Jaguars did not make it back-to-back road victories against LSU. They had defeated the Tigers 79-75 in overtime in their last trip here four seasons ago.

LSU: For the first time in three seasons, the Tigers have won their first three games. LSU began the 2012-13 season, Johnny Jones' first as its coach, with six straight wins.


South Alabama plays Belmont in a subregional of the Legends Classic at Kennesaw (Ga.) on Monday.

LSU plays Marquette in the championship round of the Legends Classic at Brooklyn (N.Y.) on Monday.