BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Emmitt Williams and Naz Reid each scored 15 points as LSU extended its winning streak to seven games by defeating South Carolina 89-67 in a Southeastern Conference game Saturday night.
The Tigers (14-3, 4-0), who led for nearly the entire game, have won their first four SEC games for the first time in 13 seasons. LSU’s 2006 Final Four team won its first seven conference games.
Williams, whose 15 points matched his season-high, also grabbed a season-best 13 rebounds. Williams and Reid were two of six LSU players who scored at least ten points. Kavell Bigby-Williams, Ja’vonte Smart and Tremont Waters each had 12 points. Marlon Taylor had 10 points.
“We played well the first half,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “To shoot 32-of-35 from the free throw line is tremendous. We did a great job attacking the paint. We had good pace and had good spacing, especially in the first half. We did a great job on the offensive glass. It’s good to see us win in a different way.”
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A.J. Lawson led the Gamecocks (9-8, 4-1) with 18 points and Keyshawn Bryant scored 10. South Carolina, which had its five-game win streak snapped, was outscored 32-6 at the foul line.
“We got totally outplayed, especially their guards who dominated our guards,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “We lost in every statistical category. I’ve never coached a game like this where we got destroyed on the glass (49-29).”
Two good stretches enabled LSU to build a 48-28 halftime lead over South Carolina. A basket by Williams with 12:03 before halftime capped a 10-2 run and put LSU ahead 21-13.
Williams scored seven points as LSU went on a 15-4 run over the final six-plus minutes of the first half. A layup by Skylar Mays with 51 seconds left gave the Tigers a 48-28 lead at the break.
“Our guards are our leaders and they have been telling us how we need to go hard to the glass,” Williams said. “We need to just keep going and get better each and every day. Coach (Wade) made everyone on the team make 100 free throws. We have been working on free throws a lot and it shows.”
LSU is putting up some rare results recently. The Tigers have won 17 straight home games for the first time in ten years. LSU won its last three home games in 2008 and its first 14 home games in 2009. The Tigers’ seven-game winning streak is their longest since recording eight straight victories in the 2014-15 season. LSU is 4-0 in the SEC for only the fourth time in 50 seasons. The Tigers won their first four league games in 1981, 1995 and 2006. LSU’s four-game SEC winning streak is its longest in seven seasons.
During their five-game win streak, the Gamecocks averaged 82.8 points per game with four players contributing at least 12 points apiece: Hassani Gravett (14.8), A.J. Lawson (13.8), Chris Silva (13.2) and Keyshawn Bryant (12.4). Only Lawson scored at least a dozen points against LSU with a team-high 18. Bryant added ten points, while Gravett had nine and Silva had seven.
GETTING TO THE LINE
Despite winning by 22 points, LSU was outshot from the field. South Carolina made 44 percent of its field goal attempts (28 of 64), while the Tigers shot 42 percent from the field (27 of 64). But, the difference was at the foul line. LSU took 35 free throws and made 32. The Gamecocks made only six of their 14 foul shots. Three Tigers players made more than six free throws: Emmitt Williams with nine, Marlon Taylor with eight and Naz Reid with seven.
LSU: The Tigers are one of two teams undefeated in SEC play. Tennessee is 5-0 in the conference after beating Alabama on Saturday.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks, who had rallied from double-digit deficits in the final ten minutes for road victories at Florida and Vanderbilt, never made a serious dent in LSU’s lead in the second half. South Carolina, which was 4-0 in the SEC for just the third time since joining the league, came no closer than 19 points after halftime.
LSU: The Tigers will try to remain undefeated in SEC play when they host Georgia on Wednesday.
South Carolina: After splitting two road games, the Gamecocks will return home to play Auburn on Tuesday.