BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU had rarely used the full-court press while winning its first four games of the season.
But the Tigers came away with a 72-67 victory against Seton Hall in a SEC-Big East Challenge game Thursday night because of that defense.
Trailing by 16 points early in the second half, LSU went to the press, forced 17 turnovers the rest of the game and rallied for their fifth straight victory.
"The full-court press is part of our game," LSU coach Johnny Jones said. "We had not been in it as much because of our lack of depth. It can create some havoc for us. We had no choice tonight. This was the first time we were in this position where we had to use it."
Shavon Coleman, who scored 14 second-half points, gave LSU (5-0) the lead for good at 65-64 on a field goal with 2:15 left. Then, Seton Hall (5-2) was guilty of turnovers on its next three possessions.
Meanwhile, the Tigers made five foul shots — one by Coleman and two each by Andre Stringer and Charles Carmouche — for a 70-64 lead with 19 seconds left. The Pirates' only points in the last 3½ minutes came on a Brian Oliver 3-pointer.
"The effort our guys played with for 40 minutes of basketball was great," Jones said. "They continued to fight in the second half. They continued to stay the course, and some great things happened for us at the end. It was a gutsy win for our basketball team."
Coleman was the top scorer for LSU with 18 points. Johnny O'Bryant had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while both Anthony Hickey and Stringer had 10 points.
Brandon Mobley came off the bench and led the Pirates with a career-high 17 points. Eugene Teague added 14 points, while both Aaron Cosby and Oliver scored 13. Seton Hall committed 26 turnovers in the game with 16 resulting from Tigers steals.
"We didn't handle the LSU pressure well at all," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "That's tough. You turn the ball over 26 times and you still have a chance to win the game. Turnovers have been a problem, but we have to solve that somehow."
Coleman gave LSU just its second lead of the night at 60-58 by making a short jumper with 6:06 left in the game. Malik Morgan followed with a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a five-point advantage. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Cosby and Fuquan Edwin put Seton Hall on top at 64-63 with 3:41 to play.
Mobley nearly set a career high in points in the opening 20 minutes. Coming off the bench, Mobley scored 15 points as Seton Hall took a 35-27 lead. Mobley matched his career-high for 3-pointers with three in the first half.
With the score tied 14-14, the Pirates scored seven straight points on a field goal by Oliver, a 3-pointer by Kyle Smyth and two free throws by Mobley. LSU reduced its deficit to two points, 26-24, on a basket by Carmouche with 4:17 remaining before halftime.
But the Tigers didn't make another basket the rest of the half. LSU's only points came on foul shots — two by O'Bryant and one by Stringer. Meanwhile, Seton Hall extended its advantage on two baskets by Cosby, a 3-pointer by Mobley and two free throws by Teague.
The Pirates quickly increased their advantage to 14 points at the outset of the second half. Oliver and Cosby hit 3-pointers as Seton Hall went ahead 41-27 in the opening 20 seconds. A basket by Teague gave the Pirates a 46-30 lead less than three minutes into the half.
LSU then went to the full-court press and cut into Seton Hall's big advantage. Trailing 52-39, the Tigers scored 13 consecutive points. Coleman made two baskets, while Hickey made a 3-pointer and two free throws. A basket by Shane Hammink tied the score at 52-52 with 8:57 to play.
Seton Hall ended its four-minute drought and regained the lead on a 3-pointer by Oliver. After a field goal by Edwin, Morgan knocked down a 3-pointer to bring LSU within two points at 57-55. The Tigers tied the score again at 58-58 on a three-point play by Coleman with 7:05 remaining.