By BRYAN LAZARE Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Darius Days scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as LSU defeated Missouri State 73-58 on Friday.
It was the third double-double of the season for Days, who has scored in double figures in each game.
“I just was in the right place at the right time and my team was finding me,” Days said. “Javonte (Smart) saw me in the corner. Skylar (Mays) saw me in the corner. Emmitt (Williams) got me a couple passes under the bucket. We’re jelling better. Everybody is starting to play their role.”
The Tigers (5-2), who led for most of the game, had their lead trimmed to 47-45 seven minutes into the second half before pulling away on 14-2 run over the next four minutes. Days and Charles Manning each scored five points in that stretch.
Emmitt Williams had 14 points for the Tigers. Skylar Mays and Trendon Watford scored 12 apiece and Javonte Smart had a career-high nine assists.
Keandre Cook led Missouri State (3-5) with 17 points. Tulio DaSilva had 16 points, while Josh Hall had 11. Gaige Prim, who scored 58 points in the Bears’ three games at the Charleston Classic last week, sat out the game because of an injury.
“The same thing that we have dealt with all of this year has been the turnovers,” Missouri State coach Dana Ford said. “It was a two-point game with nine minutes to go and we turned the ball over three or four straight times. They scored each of those times and you just can’t do that.”
LSU scored 11 consecutive points early in the first half to go on top 13-5. Williams made a couple of field goals and a basket by Mays with 14:11 before halftime completed the 11-0 run.
Missouri State closed to one point on two occasions, but it would never tie the score in the first half. Holding a one-point lead, LSU got a pair of 3-pointers from Mays to go ahead 27-20 with 6:44 left in the first half. The Tigers took a 33-27 advantage into halftime.
“This was a good win,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “That was the largest margin those guys have been beaten all year. Our turnover number was great, but our defensive rebounding was poor. It was a tremendous floor game for Javonte. Darius has become so consistent for us.”
LSU: The Tigers posted their fourth consecutive victory at home – three by at least 10 points – in the first month of the season.
Missouri State: For the first time this season, the Bears were beaten by more than four points. Missouri State’s previous four defeats came by a total of nine points.
Javonte Smart has the unenviable task of replacing All-Southeastern Conference performer Tremont Waters at point guard. Smart has gotten off to a slow start as he made just 34% of his field goal attempts in the first six games. More importantly, Smart had committed one more turnover (26) than assists (25) in those six games. Against Missouri State, Smart only made three of nine shots from the field. However, he had his best floor game of the season. Smart handed out a career-high nine assists and committed just one turnover in 36 minutes.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Missouri State made only 40% of its field goal attempts. However, the Bears kept within striking distance until the final minutes due to their work on the backboards. Missouri State outrebounded LSU 35-30 – the first time all season the Tigers were beaten on the boards. Moreover, the Bears grabbed 15 offensive rebounds which resulted in 18 second-chance points. LSU had six offensive rebounds and eight second-chance points.
LSU will play New Orleans in the second game of its four-game homestand Tuesday.
Missouri State plays a home game for the first time in three weeks when it faces Murray State on Tuesday.