BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)—With neither team hitting from the perimeter, No. 25 LSU used its inside strength to beat Mississippi State 72-59 on Wednesday night.
Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas had double-doubles for the Tigers (17-7, 9-2), who increased their lead in the Southeastern Conference’s West Division to two games over Alabama.
“Hitting the jumpers helps loosen things up,” Thomas said. “Teams are giving me that shot. It worked for me tonight. They didn’t double Glen as much after I made those first two jump shots.”
Both teams made fewer than 40 percent of their field goal attempts—a season-low 38 percent for LSU and 34 percent for Mississippi State. The teams were a combined 8-of-27 on 3-pointers, but the Tigers received the better play from their post players.
Davis, who had five points in the first half, finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Thomas, who was 7-for-11 from the field, had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Darrel Mitchell made two 3-pointers to become the Tigers’ career leader in that category. Mitchell, who had 16 points, has 238 3s, one more than Torris Bright.
“It was not pretty,” Mitchell said. “We made some casual mistakes and we didn’t connect on some easy baskets. We had to just grind it out and win.”
Charles Rhodes had 14 points for Mississippi State (12-12, 2-9), which was outrebounded 50-35 and missed 12 of 22 free throws. Dietric Slater and Jamont Gordon each had 11 points for the Bulldogs, while Jamall Edmondson added 10.
LSU withstood a miserable opening 4 minutes to take a seven-point halftime lead. The Tigers missed five of their first six field goal attempts and committed three turnovers in the rough start.
Meanwhile, Mississippi State got five free throws from Slater and two field goals from Rhodes in taking a 12-2 lead.
A basket by Mitchell with 15:57 remaining in the first half started a surge that ended with LSU taking an 18-16 lead on a 3 by Mitchell with 10:16 remaining. Two possessions later, Rhodes tied the score.
LSU then went on an 11-0 run with Mitchell and Lazare scoring all the points. The Tigers led 34-27 at halftime.
The Bulldogs missed 15 of 18 shots from the field while seeing their 10-point lead turn into an 11-point deficit.
“LSU beat us on the backboard and made plays when they needed to make plays,” Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. “LSU’s got one of the best frontcourts in the country. Our team fought and battled. It’s tough to go on the road though and not make your free throws and have too many unforced turnovers.”
Mitchell’s basket with 16:41 left gave LSU a 43-29 lead. The Bulldogs made a run in the final 3 minutes when two 3-pointers by Reginald Delk brought them within 63-56. The Tigers answered with a 9-1 run in which Davis scored six points.
“The final score was 72-59 LSU,” Tigers coach John Brady said. “That’s the best thing. As long as that keeps happening, I’m a happy camper.”