Men's Basketball Rolls Past Belhaven in Exhibition
BATON ROUGE — Veteran first-team preseason All-SEC selection Tasmin Mitchell teamed with newcomers Marcus Thornton and Anthony Randolph Thursday night to lead the LSU men’s basketball team to a 108-57 decision over NAIA school Belhaven at the Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers were led in scoring by Thornton, the junior college transfer from Kilgore who prepped in Baton Rouge, with 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Anthony Randolph doubled up in the exhibition game with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Mitchell hit six-of-10 field goals and all six free throw attempts to score 18 points, while Terry Martin, despite a sore ankle had 13 points and five assists. Freshman point guard Bo Spencer came off the bench to play 20 minutes with nine points, eight assists and no turnovers.
Belhaven, from Jackson, Miss., was topped by the 24 points of all-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference preseason first teamer Dax Miller.
The Tigers shot 57.9 percent (44-of-76) from the field for the opener, but the Tigers perimeter game was slow to get going, missing all nine first-half three-point shots. But Thornton heated up in the second half hitting three from long distance. LSU was, despite still learning how to prevent defenders from driving past them from the goal, able to run and get easy layups much of the second half as they outscored the Blazers, 61-29, after getting a 47-28 halftime advantage.
All 11 players dressed played for LSU and 10 scored as LSU outrebounded the Blazers, 53-37, with 28 assists to 15 turnovers with 11 blocks and 17 steals.
“In the first eight or ten minutes of the second half we played better defensively and that is what I want us to do – to have a little more energy and activity,” said LSU Coach John Brady. “We are still a work in progress as far as rebounding the ball. We were challenged around the goal tonight as far as defending it. Those are two of my concerns ? rebounding and defending around the goal. The team almost fooled me, I have seen them shoot the ball pretty well but we went 0 for 9 from three in the first half, but I think that is going to happen. We settled down and shot a little better in the second half.”
LSU had 68 points in the paint and got 38 of its points off the 25 Belhaven turnovers, compared to just eight for the Blazers.
“We made some easy baskets off of their turnovers,” said Brady, “But that isn’t going to happen against a more quality opponent. We defended better in the second half and got some easy baskets and some lay ups. “The team we are going to play this Tuesday, EA Sports, I saw beat Utah State (Tuesday) night. So it should be a better test to see where we are.”
LSU will conclude its exhibition play on Tuesday against the EA Sports, a team they will meet for the eighth consecutive year. The team, made up of former collegiate stars, has two wins over LSU over the years, the only two losses in the John Brady era in 21 exhibition contests at LSU. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Maravich Center and tickets are on sale at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office for $5. LSU opens the regular season on Nov. 12 at home against Southeastern Louisiana.
LSU HEAD COACH JOHN BRADY
“In the first eight or ten minutes of the second half we played better defensively and that is what I want us to do – to have a little more energy and activity. We are still a work in progress as far as rebounding the ball. We were challenged around the goal tonight as far as defending it. Those are two of my concerns ? rebounding and defending around the goal. The team almost fooled me, I have seen them shot the ball pretty well but we went 0 for 9 from three in the first half, but I think that is going to happen. We settled down and shot a little better in the second half.”
On getting so many points off turnovers…
“We made some easy baskets off of our turnovers, but that isn’t going to happen against a more quality opponent. We defended better in the second half and got some easy baskets and some lay ups.”
“The team we are going to play this Tuesday, EA Sports, I saw beat Utah State last night. So it should be a better test to see where we are.”
On how the new guys played…
“I thought Marcus Thornton warmed up a little in the second half and played a little bit better. Anthony Randolph also played with a little bit more intensity. What I need from him is a high-level of concentration and more intensity in his play. That is one thing I think I can get him to do.”
“Bo Spencer played well. He played 20 minutes and got eight assists with no turnovers. That is pretty good for a freshman point guard to be able to do that.”
Belhaven Head Coach Tom Kelsey
On tonight’s game against LSU…
“LSU has a great team. Coach (John) Brady has a young team, but he has some really good athletes. It will be interesting to see how they do during the season. We have been practicing for a while, and I was a little disappointed in our performance, but a lot of that has to do with LSU’s defense. They just play great defense.”
On how hard it is to guard Tasmin Mitchell…
“The problem with guarding him is that he is so versatile. He can put the ball on the floor and he can shoot jump shots. Coach (John) Brady was talking about him before the game and just how versatile he is. He is just a tough match up. We are smaller, but even the SEC teams will have a hard time because he falls in between guarding him with a guard or a big guy. He is a tough match up for anybody.”