BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU held South Carolina to one basket over the final four minutes and rallied for a 64-58 Southeastern Conference victory Wednesday night.
In a second half in which both teams had mini-runs, five consecutive points by Michael Carrera put South Carolina ahead 56-52 with 4:33 remaining in the game. Josh Gray came back with five straight points to give LSU a 57-56 lead at the two-minute mark.
Tyrone Johnson made a layup to give the lead back to the Gamecocks at 58-57 with 1:39 to play. A dunk by Jarell Mickey off a pass from Tim Quarterman put the Tigers in the lead for good at 59-58 with 1:10 remaining.
The Gamecocks had two opportunities to take the lead in the last 35 seconds, but had shots blocked. Jordan Mickey blocked an attempt by Johnson and Keith Hornsby got a piece of a shot by Marcus Stroman.
Gray then made the first of two foul shots. Mickey rebounded the missed free throw and was fouled. Mickey sank two free throws to give LSU a 62-58 lead with 19 seconds to go. Mickey blocked two more shots in the final seconds.
“The guys gave great effort again, but unfortunately we can write a book on how to mess up games in the last three minutes,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “LSU is really good. They have two big guys inside (Martin and Mickey) and they complement them by playing those guards.”
Quarterman led LSU (16-4, 5-2) with 16 points. Hornsby added 15 points, while Mickey had 14 points and six blocked shots. Martin, who also blocked six shots, had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Duane Notice was the leading scorer for the Gamecocks (10-9, 1-6) with 12 points. Sindarius Thornwell had 11 points and nine rebounds, while Johnson contributed 10 points.
“We let this game go and slip away,” Thornwell said. “We had the momentum just about the whole game. We had a couple of defensive breakdowns and a couple of bad offensive possessions. We blew the game.”
Neither team had more than a two-point lead for the first 10 minutes of the game. Two foul shots by Martin with 9:41 remaining before halftime put LSU in front 19-15.
The Tigers would a build a five-point advantage twice - the last at 24-19 on a basket by Hornsby with 6:13 to play in the half.
A pair of field goals by Notice enabled South Carolina to tie the score at 25-25 with 2:52 before halftime. The Tigers scored the next four points on a field goal by Quarterman and two foul shots by Mickey. A 3-pointer by Notice left the Gamecocks behind 29-28 at the half.
South Carolina jumped out in front to start the second half on a 3-pointer by Carrera and two free throws by Thornwell. LSU answered with a 3-pointer by Martin and a dunk by Hornsby to take a 34-33 lead.
The Gamecocks responded with a 7-0 run on field goals by Laimonas Chatkevicius and Thornwell and a 3-pointer by Notice to take a 40-34 lead. The Tigers then went on a 12-3 run to go ahead 46-43. Both Quarterman and Mickey had a couple of field goals in that stretch.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Two players, including starter Demetrius Henry, were unavailable due to concussions. Henry was averaging 6.7 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. Laimonas Chatkevicius replaced Henry in the starting lineup and finished with six points and four rebounds. Justin McKie, who was averaging 4.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in 13 minutes per game, was also not in uniform.
LSU: Jordan Mickey moved into second place on the Tigers’ blocked-shot rankings. Mickey, who blocked six shots, moved ahead of Chris Johnson. Mickey, a sophomore who has 177 blocks, trails only Shaquille O’Neal, who blocked 412 shots in three seasons.
South Carolina will play host to Georgia on Saturday.
LSU will play at Mississippi State on Saturday.