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Charleston knocks off freshman sensation Ben Simmons, LSU

Canyon Barry and the Charleston Cougars downed LSU at home in a victory that could change the momentum of the program.

Canyon Barry led the Cougars with 19 points in the win.
Canyon Barry led the Cougars with 19 points in the win.
Charleston Athletics

Earl Grant won't say it, but the College of Charleston head coach knows it: his Cougars' 70-58 win over visiting LSU on Monday evening is a program changing victory.

Charleston controlled this game from start to finish, with the Cougars up 22 at halftime, and limited big plays from the consensus number one draft pick of 2016, Ben Simmons.

Canyon Barry dazzled the home crowd, with nifty plays and pace-setting shots in Charleston's big first half. Heck, people were even tweeting he looked more like a future pro than Simmons. His father and Hall of Famer, Rick, would smirk at that one.

While Charleston led by 22 at the half, LSU made their run and the Tigers did cut it to seven with just over a minute remaining, but Barry put the game away at the line for the Cougars.

Barry scored 19 points to lead Charleston, while guards Cameron Johnson and Marquise Pointer added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Simmons, the heralded freshman standout for the Tigers, finished with 15 points and 18 rebounds. He put together a much improved second half and dominated the boards as usual, albeit missing a handful of free throws that could have changed the pace of the game.

But numbers aside, this is a win for a basketball program that used to knock off major conference giants regularly, behind legendary coaches John Kresse in the 90's and Bobby Cremins in the 00's.

Kresse took the Cougars to four NCAA Tournaments and two NITs in eight years, while Cremins ignited big wins over nationally ranked teams, such as defending champion North Carolina in 2010.

Yet, the Charleston program had fallen into a state of disarray in the last few years.

Grant is in just his second season, taking over for Doug Wojcik in September 2014 after Wojcik was fired for behind the scenes issues. Instead of getting press for defeating big-name teams, Charleston was on the negative side of the news.

Meanwhile, Grant had just a month and a half to get acclimated to his team, leading to the worst season in Charleston's Division 1 history in 2014-2015. They were picked to finish second to last in the Colonial this season.

Grant has never been one for predictions, just hard work and a positive attitude.

This win over LSU will surely get the Cougars back in a positive light, and you can bet Grant, a North Charleston native, has a mighty big southern grin on his face.

The Cougars are now 4-2 on the season, but this victory means a lot more to the Charleston program than just a win on their record. It signals a changing of the tide, eliciting a bit of the nostalgia from the times of Kresse and Cremins, as to say 'Charleston basketball is back.'