LSU forward Shavon Coleman dribbles past McNeese State forward Adrian Fields during game Tuesday in Baton Rouge. The Tigers won 73-48. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 6:00 PM
BATON ROUGE — Dave Simmons was able to get the better of Johnny Jones in their 1-on-1 battles in days long gone by.
The matchup isn’t so even in its present 5-on-5 configuration with the former DeRidder High teammates coaching against each other rather than playing.
Jones got the best of his longtime friend on Tuesday night as LSU cruised to a 73-48 win over McNeese State at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“I thought we were playing a very good basketball team,” Jones said. “A group that came in here two years ago and took our basketball program into overtime. I thought those guys came in tonight very focused and on a mission. I thought our guys did a great job from the outset withstanding the runs and pressure.”
There was no shortage of ugly stats for the Cowboys (1-1).
As could be expected against a much taller Tigers team, the Cowboys faced a 50-31 rebounding disadvantage. Unfortunately, that was not the only area of struggle.
McNeese did not get its first assist until 30 minutes into the game, when Kevin Hardy hit Dontae Cannon for a layup. It remained the lone McNeese assist against 19 turnovers.
“One assist is obviously glaring,” Simmons said. “We’ve got to go back and look at the tape at where we had opportunities. One assist — I’ve never been on a team with one assist per game. But we have a team in process. We’re young.”
Granted, several assist opportunities were unfulfilled thanks to poor shooting. McNeese shot 29.6 percent (16 of 54) from the field.
“As coaches, we’ll look at what we can do offensively to get our guys some better shots,” Simmons said.
The Cowboys were unable to rely on outside shooting to get themselves back into the game, finishing 0-for-12 behind the 3-point arc.
And two starters, Adrian Fields and Jeremie Mitchell, finished a combined 0-for-13 from the field.
“We expect those guys to give us some points, and it didn’t happen tonight,” Simmons said. “Give credit to LSU’s defensive guys. But you’ve got to have those numbers from them. We just have to keep them believing in themselves.”
Despite the ugliness, there were a couple of bright spots for the Cowboys.
Sophomore Kevin Hardy set a career high with 18 points, and freshman Austin Lewis had two blocked shots in his collegiate debut.
“This was his first college game, and I thought he played well going on a bad ankle,” Simmons said of Lewis. “His upside is very good.”
The Cowboys kept it close for the first 14 minutes, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Anthony Hickey kick-started a 16-6 LSU run into the locker room that put the Tigers up by 16.
The Tigers’ main man in the first half was forward Shavon Coleman, who scored 23 of his game-high 25 points in the first 20 minutes. Coleman was the first LSU player to score 20 points in the opening half since Tasmin Mitchell poured in 23 against Auburn in 2010.
LSU (2-0) finished with a 27-12 edge in points off turnovers, and 28-9 in bench scoring.