Johnny O’Bryant added 13 points for the Tigers before leaving the game with a leg injury with about eight minutes remaining in the first half. Freshmen Shane Hammink and Malik Morgan each had 10 points for the Tigers.
It all added up to a successful debut for LSU coach Johnny Jones.
LSU made 10 3-pointers and shot better from behind the arc than it did at the foul line. The Tigers were 10 of 26 on 3-pointers and just 7 of 20 on free throws.
Kyle Boswell led the Gauchos with 17 points. Alan Williams and Michael Bryson added 14 and 10 points, respectively. UC Santa Barbara committed 23 turnovers which resulted in 21 LSU points.
UC Santa Barbara used a 9-0 run to take a seven-point lead in the first five minutes of the game. Two foul shots by Nate Garth capped the outburst which put the Gauchos on top 11-4.
LSU then started heating up from beyond the arc and built a 27-22 lead with 9:14 remaining in the first half. The Tigers outscored UC Santa Barbara 23-11 on the strength of five 3-pointers by five different players. Hammink’s 3-pointer gave LSU the lead at 24-22.
The Tigers extended their lead to nine points at 33-24 after two free throws by Eddie Ludwig. However, LSU’s offense stalled when O’Bryant left the game with his injury. He had 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Gauchos cut LSU’s lead to two, 33-31, after Taran Brown made one of two foul shots with 4:14 to play before halftime. However, UC Santa Barbara scored just one point the rest of the half. The Tigers were able to get a little separation from the Gauchos. Baskets by Eddie Ludwig, Shavon Coleman and Morgan enabled LSU to move on top 41-32 at halftime.
The Tigers turned up their defensive pressure to start the second half.
The Gauchos missed seven of eight field goal attempts and committed seven turnovers in the first eight minutes of the final stanza and LSU outscored UC Santa Barbara 14-5 to open up an 18-point lead.
A three-point play and a 3-pointer by Andre Stringer capped LSU’s run. The Tigers led 55-37 with 13 minutes remaining and the Gauchos could get no closer than 10 points the rest of the game.