Southern Miss overcame a 14-point first-half deficit to get within four early in the second, but LSU had too much on its home floor and won 78-61 inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Tuesday night.
The second half started well for the visitors, getting within 37-33 after back-to-back buckets. It was the smallest deficit since the 11:27 mark of the first half. LSU, however put together an 8-2 run that extended the lead to 45-35.
“As I told the team in the locker room, I can’t be too disappointed in the effort until we stop believing 100 percent that we can win the basketball game,” head coach Doc Sadler said. “We’re going to continue to play some teams close. We get it to four and we have a chance with the basketball, but we gave them two straight opportunities for easy baskets.”
Southern Miss (1-1) kept coming strong in the final 10-minute stanza. Cortez Edwards leaped high for a block just outside the paint, and Raheem Watts streaked down the middle of the floor for an all-alone fastbreak dunk. A few minutes later, Bilal Abdur-Rahim banked in a jumper from inside the free-throw line that got Southern Miss back within 60-50 at the 7:16 mark.
Southern Miss held LSU to a four-minute scoring drought in the first half from the 16 to 12-minute marks. The Golden Eagles also committed just two turnovers over the final 10:16 of the first half.
Michael Ramey and Tim Rowe led USM with 13 points. Antonio Blakeney had a game-high 26 points for LSU, followed by Brandon Sampson (11), Wayde Sims (10) and Reath Duop (10).
The Black and Gold return home for a Friday night contest against Union (Tenn.) with tip-off set for 7 p.m.