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

LSU forward Trendon Watford scored 13 points on Saturday, one of three Tigers in double digits.

BATON ROUGE, La. For a recent stretch it looked like SEC teams had no answer for Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree.

It seems they’ve logged extra study hall hours, and a disturbing trend has emerged for Tyree, the Rebels’ top scorer.

Dominating the paint on both ends of the floor, No. 22 LSU used a 25-2 first-half run to take control and hold off the Rebels 73-63 before 11,112 fans as the Tigers celebrated the 50th anniversary of Pete Maravich becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer.

While Tyree struggled, Devontae Shuler became the Rebels’ top scoring option finishing with 28 points, a career-high for the second-straight game.

Shuler got going at the start of both halves. In the second half Tyree was able to free himself up, help a little bit, and the Rebels (10-11, 1-7 SEC) cut a 40-20 halftime deficit to eight points with a 12-0 run out of the locker room.

They were unable to sustain the momentum.

“They just got on top of Breein. Breein’s energy level has got to stay high when he’s not shot-making. We’ve talked about that a lot. The last time he played he had a tremendous game, 36 points, a game we led down the stretch,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said.

LSU (17-4, 8-0 SEC) struggled to stay with Tyree in Oxford as he hit 12 of 20 shots – 3 of 6 from the arc – and scored a career high 36 points on Jan. 18.

Two weeks later LSU guard Javonte Smart was in chewing gum range of Tyree from the get-go and stayed with him almost step for step around the court.

Tyree’s first field goal attempt came when he was in the open floor and pulled up for a 3-pointer that missed the mark.

Later he missed a clean 3-point look in rhythm, and when he tried jump start his mid-range game that didn’t work either.

Tyree averages 14.2 field goal attempts per game but got off only four shots in the first half. He finished 2 for 10 shooting with nine points. On Monday Tyree was the SEC’s leading scorer, but he was held to eight points by Auburn on Tuesday before the Tigers contained him.

“Teams pay more attention to me. I’m probably the first name they see on the scouting report,” Tyree said. “Credit LSU. They did a great job tonight. It was nothing too crazy. I missed some shots I normally make.”

Ole Miss led 9-7 early as Shuler scored the Rebels’ first nine points.

The Tigers responded with blocked shots, altered shots and steals. Ole Miss shot just 25 percent in the first half.

Six of Tyree’s nine points came in the first 5 minutes of the second half.

LSU pushed the lead back to 21 points with 6:48 left.

“Our team’s a work in progress. We’re going to be disappointed. We’re not going to be discouraged. We’re in a reset year. We’ll get it fixed,” Davis said.

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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