NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Glen “Big Baby” Davis’ muscle and LSU’s second-half hustle spared the No. 10 Tigers from a major upset.
Davis had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and LSU turned a big advantage in offensive rebounds into 21 second-chance points in a 74-67 comeback victory over Tulane on Saturday.
“We crashed the boards really, really hard,” said Davis, a junior listed at 6-foot-9, 289 pounds. “We knew what we had to do. We knew what we wanted to do. We didn’t get rattled to the point where we couldn’t bounce back. We kept our composure. That’s the point. I don’t care what you won the game by. You won the game.”
The Tigers held a 16-3 advantage in offensive rebounds.
After falling behind by as much as 11 in the first half, LSU (4-1) closed to within six by halftime and then scored 15 straight points to take the lead for good with a little under 12 minutes left.
Tack Minor ignited the decisive run with a 3-pointer. Davis scored twice from inside, then Tasmin Mitchell hit an acrobatic reverse layup while falling down after being fouled on a baseline drive.
He made the free throw, and the surge continued when Dameon Mason stole the ball near midcourt and took it the other way for a breakaway dunk to give the Tigers a 58-49 lead.
Garrett Temple scored 18 points for LSU. Mason finished with 12 points and Mitchell had 11.
LSU allowed Tulane only 25 points in the second half and finished with a 43-29 rebounding advantage for the game, allowing the Tigers to escape with the victory despite being outshot 49.1 percent to 40.3 percent.
“Our defense was good enough to stop the initial shot, but in order to win this game we had to get more rebounds than 29,” Tulane coach Dave Dickerson said. “The disparity on the rebounding end of it was the telltale of the game.”
David Gomez led Tulane (4-3) with 19 points, and Chris Moore and Kevin Sims each scored 12.
Sims made a 3-pointer with 2:36 left to cut LSU’s lead to 69-65, but Davis forced Tulane to foul him on a strong move inside and converted two free throws.
“Our guys did a great job of competing for 40 minutes, and LSU showed why they’re the 10th-ranked team in the country,” Dickerson said. “Our guys played hard and I’m very, very satisfied with our effort.”
LSU coach John Brady said Gomez’s strong showing exposed weaknesses in the Tigers’ man-to-man defense, which seems less effective defending the post without last year’s team-leading shot blocker, Tyrus Thomas.
“I guess we miss that shot-blocker we had last year a lot,” Brady said. “We may have to change defenses. We haven’t played a minute of zone. We may have to go to double-teaming the post to give our post guys some help because we’re not as athletic around the goal.”
Further complicating matters for LSU, starting forward Darnell Lazare sprained his left ankle. He sat out the entire second half and is day-to-day, an LSU spokesman said, with No. 9 Texas A&M visiting Baton Rouge on Tuesday night.
Tulane shot 53 percent in the first half, taking the ball aggressively to the hoop. Moore started a 13-0 run with a 3-pointer, and the Green Wave led 38-27.
“I definitely think they underestimated us,” Gomez said. “Last year, they beat us pretty bad and my freshman year they beat us pretty bad, too. So it’s kind of understandable for them to come in and underestimate us, but we came out and played hard. We had something to prove and I think we showed that.”
Davis snapped the run with a strong move inside, then scored inside again to spark a 9-2 LSU spurt, capped by Temple’s three-point play on a soaring fast-break lay-in as he was fouled.
Tulane responded with Andrew Garcia’s runner in the lane to give the Green Wave a 42-36 lead at halftime.
“Our team talked it over at halftime and decided we were going to win the game by defending and trying to rebound. And if you look at the stats in the second half, that’s exactly what happened,” Brady said. “We didn’t shoot it as well as we would have liked. Are we where we need to be? No. We’re still a work in progress.”