BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)—Glen Davis walked toward the frenzied LSU student section, smiled wide, cocked one fist in the air and let the cheers rain down on him as the clock ticked down.
It was a big-game atmosphere against a fellow Top-10 team, and Davis had responded with a big-time performance.
“You never get to enjoy this kind of stuff when you’re old, so I’m just soaking it all up,” said the 6-foot-9, 295-pounder, who goes by the nickname “Big Baby.”
Using muscle under the hoop and finesse from the perimeter, Davis scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead No. 9 LSU to a 64-52 victory over sixth-ranked Texas A&M on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t have an answer,” Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie said. “He’s a good player.”
The first loss of the season for the Aggies (7-1) also came against their first ranked opponent. Texas A&M had won 14 regular season games and had not lost at all since being eliminated by LSU in the second round of last season’s NCAA tournament.
“They just whipped us,” Gillispie said. “They outhustled us. They got the loose balls, they were a step ahead of us in everything we did. Congratulations to them.”
Tasmin Mitchell added 15 points and nine rebounds for LSU (5-1), which led throughout the second half and outrebounded the Aggies 35-24. Garrett Temple had 11 points for the Tigers.
Antanas Kavaliauskas led the Aggies with 18 points, while Joseph Jones added 12 before fouling out late in the game. Acie Law, who averaged 15 points coming in, was held to only four while guarded primarily by Temple.
With a pair of fadeaways and a jumper, Davis helped LSU pull away in the second half.
“It’s just a part of my game I’ve been working on,” Davis said of scoring from outside. “That’s why coach Brady has no problem with me shooting open shots from there, because he knows I can hit them.”
Tack Minor’s twisting layup on a baseline drive put LSU up by as much as 56-41 with 5:52 remaining.
But the Aggies made a final surge beginning with Josh Carter’s three-point play on a dunk as he was fouled. The play ignited an 11-2 run, capped by Carter’s driving layup, that closed the gap to 58-52 with 3:10 to go and prompted LSU to call timeout to regroup.
LSU ran down the shot clock and missed its next shot, but Davis squeezed into a crowd underneath to grab the rebound and then surged to the basket with his right hand outstretched to lay the ball in.
“I had a chance to seize the opportunity to get the ball and I did and made the layup,” Davis said. “It’s just effort. You’ve got to have effort, have heart, to make something happen.”
The Aggies missed on their next two possessions, and Davis hit a pair of free throws to make it 62-52 with 47.4 seconds left.
The teams played close in a physical first half that had players tumbling to the floor often and coaches shouting wildly at times.
“It was a game about toughness and defending and rebounding, and tonight we were fortunate enough to be able to beat them across the board in those categories,” said LSU coach John Brady, who was called for a technical foul in the first half.
Brady argued that Mitchell had been fouled on what was ruled a clean block under the basket. The play sent Mitchell hard to the floor, while Brady, face contorted with aggression as he pointed at a referee across the court, had to be held back briefly by his assistants.
The rough tenor of the game required Davis to use his size early on.
With a forceful inside basket in a crowd of defenders and a reverse layup, both of which drew fouls and led to three-point plays, Davis fueled a 10-2 LSU run that gave the Tigers a 21-16 lead midway through the first half.
Dominique Kirk’s 3-pointer changed the momentum and started the Aggies on their own 10-2 run, which included three straight inside baskets by Kavaliauskas.
Texas A&M maintained the lead until Mitchell’s 3-pointer tied it at 28. A foul shot by Temple and a pair of free throws by Mitchell put LSU up 31-28 at halftime.
The Aggies last lost in the regular season to Texas, 83-70 on Feb. 4.