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Furman suffers first loss of the season

LSU’s interior presence was simply too much for the Paladins.

NCAA Basketball: Furman at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

BATON ROUGE — No. 24 Furman suffered its first loss of the season in a 75-57 setback to LSU in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in a non-conference clash. Furman dropped to 12-1, whereas LSU improved to 9-3 overall.

The Paladins were held to season lows in points (57) and shooting percentage (38.5%). The Tigers shot 55.4% for the night, connecting on 31-of-56 field goals in the contest.

The Tigers were led by tremendous performances from Tremont Waters and Skylar Mays combined for 36 of the Tigers’ 75 points in the contest, while Furman guards Andrew Brown, Alex Hunter (15 pts), Jordan Lyons (13 pts) and Alex Hunter (12 pts) posted all but 17 of the Paladins’ points in the contest.

“They’ve got more stars then some of these recruits in the Big Dipper,” Furman head coach Bob Richey said. “You’ve got guys that are huge, so they did what they do. Unfortunately, we don’t have high major size. We got three rebounds total at the 4 spot tonight, and they were able to capitalize.”

Waters finished the night connecting on 7-of-18 shots from the field, including 2-of-8 from three-point range and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line.

Senior forward Matt Rafferty, who started the season with 12-straight double-figure scoring performances and six double-doubles, was held below double-figures for the first time this season. He finished with nine points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals. Furman managed a season-low eight assists.

The story of the night was LSU’s dominance inside: The Tigers outscored Furman 50-22 in the paint, including 16-7 in second-chance points. The TIgers were a plus-18 on the boards (40-22), and finished with 12 offensive rebounds. The LSU bench also outscored the Paladin bench by a 32-8 margin.

Furman and LSU played both played sloppy in the opening moments of the game. LSU jumped out to as much as a five-point lead early in the contest, holding advantages of 10-5 and 13-8. Furman led the contest early 5-4 until a 6-0 run by LSU.

Throughout the half the LSU lead fluctuated between five and seven points, and the Tigers took a 2 -17 lead. The Paladins closed the gap to four at the break, with a Matt Rafferty layup as time expired, as Furman trailed 31-27. The Paladin bigs were saddled with foul trouble in the opening half. Noah Gurley, Clay Mounce and Rafferty picked up two fouls in the opening half. Furman shot only 35.7% (10-for-28) in the opening half, but stayed in the game by netting 13 points on 14 LSU turnovers. The Tigers shot 54.2% (13-for-24) in the opening half.

Less than a minute into the second half, Mounce picked up his third foul, and Mays countered with a three to briefly give LSU its largest lead at 36-27, but Andrew Brown answered with a three of his own. However, following Mounce’s fourth foul and a steal and alley-oop to Mays, LSU extended its lead to double digits (40-30) for the first time in the game, prompting a Bob Richey timeout at the 17:50 mark.

Like Mounce, Rafferty picked up his third foul early in the second half, and Kavell Bigby-Williams extended LSU’s lead to 13 on a driving layup, however, Lyons’ driving layup gave him a chance for a three-point play the old fashioned way after Bigby-Williams picked up his second foul on the other end. Lyons knocked down the free throw, and the Paladins trailed 43-33 with 15:42 left.

Moments later, a Gurley triple cut the LSU lead back to seven, at 45-38, prompting a Will Wade timeout with 13:51 left. Furman would eventually slice the LSU lead to five, at 49-44,. with 12:24 left following a Brown triple. A pair of dunks, with the last one by Taylor in traffic, put the lead back to nine for the Tigers.

Moments later, the LSU leadswelled to 13 after a Darius Days rebound and layup gave the Tigers a 61-48 lead, but the Paladins continued to hang around on a Clark layup in the lane on the other end. LSU held a 61-50 lead with 7:05 left.

With LSU leading 61-53, Mounce picked up his fifth foul and the Tigers converted 1-of-2 foul shots with 5:53 remaining. The Paladins trailed 62-53 when Rafferty picked up his fourth foul moments later, putting LSU in the bonus for the remainder of the night.

Waters connected on both free throws to put the LSU lead back to 11 with five to play. The Paladins would get within double digits once more following a Rafferty layup with 4:05 remaining, but would never get any closer.

Furman opens Southern Conference play with a trip to East Tennessee State on Dec. 29. TIp-off is set for 4 p.m. in Johnson City.