Last Modified: Monday, February 18, 2013 9:09 AM
BATON ROUGE — The Tigers roared out of the start and never let up in Saturday night’s 80-68 win against Mississippi State.
LSU (15-8, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) displayed a blistering touch from the field to easily handle the Bulldogs (7-17, 2-10).
“We knocked down some shots early on from the 3-point line and it became kind of contagious in a sense,” said LSU coach Johnny Jones.
LSU connected on 54 percent of its shots, posted a 36-to-24 rebounding advantage and a 24 to 10 assist-to-turnover margin in what may have been its best statistical game of the season.
It was the sixth win in eight conference games, and second in a row, for the Tigers, who rose to .500 in SEC play for the first time this season.
“I think it’s just a part of connecting and the chemistry on team that’s allowed us to go on a little run like this,” Jones said. “We had a chance if we wanted to when we started off 0-4 to hit a panic button.”
The Bulldogs matched LSU’s frenetic pace but couldn’t keep up as the Tigers pulled away for good with about 6 minutes left in the first half.
Five LSU players finished with double-digit scoring efforts and nine Tigers scored in the game.
After turning in a career-high 30 points in LSU’s previous game, a 64-46 win against South Carolina, sophomore Johnny O’Bryant III nearly snagged his first career triple-double.
The Mississippi native finished two assists shy of the mark, but his 10 points and 10 rebounds gave him his eighth double-double in his last nine games.
“Guys did a good job knocking down shots,” O’Bryant said.
Several of O’Bryant’s eight assists came as he drew double teams in the paint and kicked the ball out to the perimeter. More often than not, his beneficiary was senior guard Charles Carmouche.
Carmouche poured in a team-leading 21 points coming off the bench.
“Sometimes you’re going to have those nights where you can’t find the rim,” said Carmouche, whose first shot attempt of the night was an airball. “Then you’ll have those nights you feel like the rim is as big as ever.”
O’Bryant and others kept finding Carmouche at a similar spot in the corner beyond the arc. Carmouche kept jacking 3-pointers from the area, and the shots kept falling. He finished the night shooting 5 of 8 from deep.
“If there’s going to be shooting nights like that I’ll stay there for the rest of the season,” Carmouche said.
The point total was his best in an LSU uniform, and two points shy of his career high of 23, which he set when he was a sophomore at the University of New Orleans.
Senior center Andrew Del Piero joined the party with a career-high 13 points. The 7-foot-3 center and former tuba player in the LSU band got the Pete Maravich Assembly Center crowd of 9,720 on its feet with a monster dunk in the second half.
NOTES: The surviving members of LSU’s 1953 squad, including NBA hall of famer Bob Petit, were recognized at halftime to commemorate the 60th year since the team made LSU’s first Final Four appearance.