By BRYAN LAZARE Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — For the first time in their LSU careers, sophomores Darius Days and Emmitt Williams were in the starting lineup together.
That combination was a success as both Days and Williams registered double-doubles in No. 23 LSU’s 75-65 non-conference victory against Nicholls State on Saturday.
Days finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds as he hit double-digits in both points and rebounds in the same game for the first time in his career. The 17 points and 11 rebounds were career-highs for Days. Williams contributed 11 points and a season-best 12 rebounds.
“I thought I did fine, but none of that is possible without my teammates looking for me,” Days said. “Javonte (Smart) looked for me, Skylar (Mays) looked for me, Trendon (Watford) looked for me. I’m just happy we got the win.”
Mays was the leading scorer for the Tigers (2-1) with 18 points. Watford scored 17 points — all but three in the first half — for LSU.
“I was proud of our offensive rebounding,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “Days played extremely well. Emmitt played well. Skylar bounced back with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and eight rebounds. Turnovers were a problem again. If we don’t get that under control, it’s going to be a long year.”
Dexter McClanahan was the top scorer for the Colonels (2-2) with 20 points. D’Angelo Hunter had 15 points for Nicholls State.
The Tigers took control of the game by scoring 10 consecutive points in the second half to break a 48-48 tie. Days had two field goals in this stretch. The Colonels came no closer than five points the rest of the game.
“We missed some shots we normally make, but LSU played very well defensively,” Nicholls State coach Austin Claunch said. “We forced a lot of turnovers (25), but they were able to get back on defense quickly and prevent us from capitalizing on them.”
Nicholls State took a 29-21 lead in the first half after scoring nine consecutive points. McClanahan made two baskets, including a 3-pointer, during that stretch.
However, LSU answered in the final minutes before halftime with its own 9-0 run. Mays scored five of those nine points as the Tigers went ahead of the Colonels 37-36.
A 3-pointer by McClanahan with 36 seconds remaining in the first half put Nicholls State ahead 39-37. Watford made one foul shot with ten seconds before halftime to leave LSU behind by one point.
Nicholls State: The Colonels came up short as they tried to knock off their second Power Five Conference opponent this season. Nicholls State won at Pittsburgh one week ago. The Colonels dropped an overtime decision at Illinois to begin their season Nov. 5.
LSU: The Tigers bounced back from their loss at VCU on Wednesday with their 19th consecutive victory against in-state opponents. LSU has also won 11 straight games at home against non-conference opponents.
Mays, who got off to a slow start, ended up leading LSU in scoring with 18 points. Mays, who has scored 59 points in the Tigers’ first three games, did not make his first field goal until the 5:46 mark of the first half. Mays scored five points when LSU erased an eight-point Nicholls State lead late in the first half. Mays was 7-of-12 from the field although he did miss all four of his 3-point shots. Mays also had four steals and three assists.
While Mays turned in another solid performance, his backcourt mate Javonte Smart had problems. Smart, who scored 36 points in the Tigers’ first two games, finished with only three points. Smart was 1-of-9 from the field and committed seven of LSU’s 25 turnovers. Smart did hand out five assists.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Nicholls State was unable to keep up inside against LSU. The Colonels were outrebounded by the Tigers 45-27. LSU had three players with at least eight rebounds – Williams with 12, Days with 11 and Mays with eight. Only Elvis Harvey had eight rebounds for Nicholls State. The Tigers outscored Nicholls State in the paint 46-26 and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds which led to 18 second-chance points.
Nicholls State will play its fourth road game out of five this season at Rhode Island on Tuesday night.
LSU will play host to Maryland-Baltimore County on Tuesday night.