BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Andre Stringer and Johnny O'Bryant III notched season-highs with 18 points each to vault undefeated LSU to an 80-67 win over Chattanooga Tuesday in a nonconference matchup.
LSU (6-0) entered the night as one of 14 undefeated teams in the nation and has won all six of its games under first-year coach Johnny Jones. The last time the Tigers opened the season with a 6-0 mark was during the 2008-09 season when the program won its last SEC regular season championship.
LSU also played its first game after taking a 12-day break for final exams.
Stringer, making his first start of the season, connected on 7 of 14 from the floor sparked by a quartet of 3-pointers. He was starting in place of Anthony Hickey, who was suspended indefinitely last Friday for violation of athletic department and university policies.
"Our guys knew that we wouldn't be as sharp as we needed to be in this game because of the layoff," said Jones. "But I thought our effort was there especially early in the game and down the stretch in the second half. I thought we put it together, and our guys played extremely well. I'm just really pleased with their focus, especially with what they've gone through the last five days."
O'Bryant III posted his third straight double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers. O'Bryant III also made 7 of 14 shots and became the first LSU player to record three consecutive double-doubles since Storm Warren to start the 2010-11 season.
Corban Collins chipped in a career-best with 11 points and three assists to give the Tigers three player in double figures.
LSU eclipsed the 70-point barrier for the sixth consecutive game under Jones after topping 70 points just nine times last season under former head coach Trent Johnson.
The Tigers finished with 19 assists on 30 baskets and tallied a 47.6 shooting clip (30 of 63) compared to a 37.3 percent effort (25 of 67) for Chattanooga. LSU also held a 46-39 rebounding edge and notched a 38-20 advantage in the paint.
The Mocs (2-7) were paced by Z. Mason's 22 points and Ronrico White's 17 points, both career-highs. Gee McGhee added 10 points for Chattanooga, which lost its third straight game.
Trailing 23-20 at the 9:35 mark of the first half, LSU ripped off 22 of the stanza's final 29 points to take a 42-30 advantage into the locker room. The Tigers turned up their defensive intensity and limited Chattanooga to a pair of field goals during the stretch.
The Mocs hit 9 of 15 to start the second half and pulled as close as two points at 55-53 on a Mason 3-pointer with 11:30 left.
"You know you've gotten better when you go to an SEC venue and play an undefeated SEC team and you felt like you gave it away," said Chattanooga coach John Shulman. "There's no doubt that there are some areas that we did get better in and there's no doubt there are some areas that we're really hurting ourselves."
On LSU's next possession, Stringer responded with a deep 3-pointer of his own. The basket sparked 11 straight points and a 19-4 run. A Collins lay-up gave LSU its largest lead, 74-57, with 3:49 remaining.
"They hit a couple of 3s on us, got a couple of and-ones and built their confidence," Stringer said. "We looked up, and the score was close. I got open and hit a 3, which helped us build the momentum up. Obviously, when we went to the timeout, Coach (Jones) was stressing 'We got to defend, we got to defend.' We turned the heat up a little bit. We got in some passing lanes, got some rebounds and got our confidence back."