Tigers to face Ga. Tech for fifth

Advocate staff photo by Brenden Neville  LSU guard Anthony Hickey (1) goes up with the ball as Nicholls forward Trevon Lewis (23) blocks during the men's basketball home opener on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, at Maravich Center in Baton Rouge.
Advocate staff photo by Brenden Neville LSU guard Anthony Hickey (1) goes up with the ball as Nicholls forward Trevon Lewis (23) blocks during the men's basketball home opener on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, at Maravich Center in Baton Rouge.

CHARLESTON, S.C. - The LSU men’s basketball team completes its four-game road trip to the state of South Carolina at 1:30 p.m. Sunday against Georgia Tech in the fifth-place game of the Charleston Classic at the TD Arena.

LSU (2-2) used a strong second half Friday to beat Western Kentucky 76-57 after losing on Thursday to Northwestern 88-82.

Georgia Tech (3-1) fell to Saint Joseph’s after leading at halftime Thursday and then rallied from eight points down at halftime to beat VCU 73-60 on Friday night.

VCU and Western Kentucky will meet in the opener at 11 a.m. for seventh place, with Saint Joseph’s and Tulsa meeting in the consolation championship at 5 p.m. (ESPNU). The tournament championship game will be at 7 p.m. (ESPNU) between Seton Hall and Northwestern.

Center Justin Hamilton led LSU past WKU with 18 points and nine rebounds, while freshman point guard Anthony Hickey had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

After a sluggish first half, LSU led 40-38 at the break. The Tigers then used runs of 9-0 and 16-0 to break open the game while outscoring the Hilltoppers 36-19 in the second half.

“Coach told us we have to learn to finish the game,” Hickey said. “I tried as a point guard to be solid and be a leader out there. Everybody thinks losses are always a bad thing. But it’s what you take from them and work on.

“This time, with the lead, we just kept our mind on what we were supposed to do and just kept working to expand the lead and keeping our mind focused.”

Hickey and Hamilton have both averaged 14 points in the first two games of the tournament.

“We learned (Thursday) that if we don’t come out hard in both halves, we can lose,” Hamilton said. “So we wanted in the second half (Friday) to emphasize all the little things, getting the second-chance points, being aggressive, and we put two halves together and we came out with the win.”

Hamilton was 5-of-10 from the field and 8-of-8 at the free-throw line.

“Hickey and Andre (Stringer) and all the guards are distributing the ball to everyone,” Hamilton said of the guards, who combined for 11 assists against WKU. “We all really felt good about that game.”

LSU coach Trent Johnson chose not to practice his team Saturday, giving the players a little free time and a chance to get their legs back before the Sunday finale. He said he was very pleased with the bench’s effort against Western Kentucky to help the team.

“It was our third game in four days,” Johnson said. “We were a little tired. But our bench did a good job and we got some good contributions from them. They gave us some freshness and some energy. It was good win for us. Now we want to continue this on Sunday and then get back home and prepare for South Alabama.”