COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Freshman Jarrell Martin scored a career-high 18 points to lead LSU to a 71-68 win over South Carolina on Saturday.
LSU (10-4, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) led 64-50 with 5:45 to go before South Carolina (7-8, 0-2) scored nine straight points to cut the Tigers lead to 64-59. LSU hit seven of 12 free throws down the stretch, forced a couple of turnovers and got an offensive rebound to hang on.
The game was tied at 42 with 12 minutes left when Jordan Mickey sank a jumper. The Tigers scored on their next four possessions, with Johnny O'Bryant III and Mickey each hitting two buckets to put LSU ahead 52-45.
South Carolina has lost its first two SEC games for the third straight season. Freshman Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 25 points.
It was a sloppy game as each team turned the ball over 19 times. South Carolina shot 41.7 percent (20 of 48), while LSU shot 39.3 percent (22 of 56). But the Tigers won the game on the boards, pulling down 10 more rebounds.
LSU avoided what would have been a stunning 0-2 start in the SEC for a team picked to finish fourth in the league.
Tigers coach Johnny Jones decided to bring Martin in off the bench after he struggled with just five points on 2-of-8 shooting in Tuesday's 68-50 loss to Tennessee. He responded by scoring 11 points in the first half.
Martin made five of his six shots from the field and seven of eight free throws. He also had six rebounds on Saturday.
Mickey and O'Bryant each scored 13 points for LSU.
Thornwell shot 9-of-13 from the field and his 25 points were the best scoring night for a South Carolina player this season.
Point guard Tyrone Johnson added 15 points and was the team's leading rebounder with five boards. Brenton Williams scored 11, but missed a free throw, ending his nation-leading streak at 50 foul shots in a row.