Smart leads No. 22 LSU past Ole Miss, 73-63



BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Javonte Smart scored 13 of his season-high 21 points in the last 16 minutes, and No. 22 LSU extended its winning streak to 10 games with a 73-63 victory over struggling Mississippi on Saturday.

Marlon Tayor had 13 points and 11 rebounds and freshman Trnedon Watford scored 13 points for LSU (17-4, 8-0 SEC), which is off to its best start in conference play in 39 years.

Devontae Shuler scored a career-high 28 for Ole Miss (10-11, 1-7), which lost two straight and eight of its last nine.

These teams met two weeks earlier in Oxford, with the Tigers pulling out a four-point victory in which Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree scored a career-high 36 points.

LSU looked determined not let the rematch come down to tense final few minutes, breaking the game open with an early 25-2 run for a 32-11 lead. The Tigers opened up a 24-point advantage when Watford scored his 11th point on a free throw that made it 40-16 in the final minute of the half before Ole Miss cut it to 40-20 at the break.

However, Ole Miss rallied back within single digits by scoring the first 12 points of the second half, which amounted to a 16-0 run that made it 40-32.

The game leveled off after that, however, thanks in large part to Smart, who helped LSU gradually rebuild its lead to 21 with just less than seven minutes to go. Smarts highlights included a crafty baseline inbound pass to himself off the back of Mississippi’s Carlos Curry, who then fould Smart on his layup. Smart completed the 3-point play, which put LSU ahead 50-38.

Taylor also was instrumental in holding off the Rebels with 12 second-half points scoring on everything from a pair of 3-pointers to dunks.

The Tigers shot 47.9% and outrebounded the Rebels 42-30.

Ole Miss’ Khadin Sy scored nine of his 11 points in the second half to become one of only two Rebels with as many as 10 points.


Mississippi: While the Rebels can take a measure of satisfaction form their effort to get back in the game early in the second half, their early hole proved too deep for a team that shot just 35.6%. Tyree, who came in averaging a team-best 18.4 points per game briefly found his shot in the second half to finish with nine points, but his inability to score for much of this rematch tipped the game heavily in LSU’s favor.

LSU: A Tigers team that has spent most of this season unranked and relatively unheralded has now become historically significant at LSU. The last time the Tigers won their first eight SEC games was 1981, which is widely considered the best season in LSU basketball history. That team 39 years ago went to the Final Four, losing to eventual national champion Indiana in the national semifinals.


The halftime ceremony commemorated the 50th anniversary of former LSU star and late Hall-of-Famer Pete Maravich setting the all-time NCAA scoring record. That game also was played against Ole Miss at LSU, in an arena known as the Cow Palace on Jan. 31, 1970. LSU now plays in a stadium that opened in 1973 and later was renamed the Pete Maravich Assembly Center shortly after his death in 1988.

Maravich broke Oscar Robertson’s record of 2,973 points that had stood since 1960 and finished his three-year career (not including his season on the Tigers’ freshman squad) with 3,667 points during an era with no shot clock or 3-point line. No player has come within 400 points since.

At halftime, Maravich’s former teammates joined his wife, Jackie, and son, Jason, for an on-court ceremony in which Jason was handed a commemorative ball and Jackie a plaque as a packed crowd rose to its feet in applause. The stadium video boards also played Maravich highlights, including his record-setting basket.


Mississippi: Hosts South Carolina on Wednesday.

LSU: Visits Vanderbilt on Wednesday.
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