BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) LSU’s stretch of tight Southeastern Conference victories continued against Georgia on Tuesday night.
Even though the Tigers had a double-digit lead with less than a minute to play, they had to weather a last-second shot to escape with an 89-85 victory over the Bulldogs.
LSU (13-7, 6-2), which has won four of its last five games by 17 total points, had an 11-point lead at 82-71 after Tim Quarterman made two foul shots with 50 seconds remaining. Georgia scored 14 points, 10 by J.J. Frazier, in the next 34 seconds. Frazier’s layup put the Bulldogs behind 86-85.
Georgia (11-7, 4-4) had an opportunity to tie it after Keith Hornsby made 1 of 2 from the line with 12 seconds to play, but E’Torrion Wilridge missed a short jumper with two seconds to play. Antonio Blakeney grabbed the rebound for the Tigers and made a couple of free throws.
”After getting a 12-point lead, we played with too much comfort,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. ”We were too loose with the basketball. Through it all, our guys did a great job of battling and playing well against a very scrappy, tough team.”
Quarterman and Ben Simmons each scored 22 to lead the Tigers. Simmons also grabbed 14 rebounds and Blakeney had 12 points for LSU, while both Jalyn Patterson and Craig Victor had 11.
”It was crazy,” said Quarterman, who was 13 of 19 at the foul line. ”I’ve never shot that many free throws in my life. The referees were calling it tight. Georgia kept making big plays to put themselves in position to win the game. We came up with the last stop.”
Frazier led Georgia with 26 points, all but five coming in the second half. Kenny Gaines scored 20 points, while Charles Mann had 19.
With its lead down to two points just past the halfway mark of the second half, LSU got four 3-pointers in a three-minute span to go up by double figures for the first time. Patterson made three, while Quarterman had the other one.
Sparked by the long-range shooting, the Tigers went on a 19-7 run. A basket by Quarterman put LSU in front 80-66 with 2:27 remaining.
”We had to change something because every defensive possession was ending in a foul,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. ”We went to a couple of different defenses and we were going to give up some open 3-point shots. To their credit, when they got an open 3, they made a couple.”
Both teams struggled on the offensive end of the floor in the first half. LSU shot 38 percent from the field (11 of 29), while Georgia was just slightly better at 40 percent (10 of 25). The Bulldogs had the lead twice in the first 20 minutes – the last at 7-6 following two foul shots by Mann.
The Tigers scored eight straight points to take their largest first-half lead at 18-9. Victor converted a 3-point play and Quarterman added two free throws and a field goal during this stretch. LSU then went nearly five minutes without a point to allow Georgia to get back in it.
On two occasions in the last two minutes before halftime, Georgia pulled within two points. But a foul shot by Quarterman put the Tigers in front 33-30 at the half.
The Bulldogs tied the score at 39-all early in the second half on a 3-point play by Yante Maten.
LSU answered with eight consecutive points. Quarterman started the run with a 3-pointer. Blakeney followed with two baskets, the first a 3-pointer, as the Tigers moved ahead 47-39.
LSU maintained at least a six-point lead over the next four-plus minutes. Then Frazier scored seven consecutive points to cut it to 61-59 with 8:35 remaining.
Georgia: The Bulldogs nearly pulled off the upset without much production from Maten, their top scorer and rebounder. Maten finished with five points and three rebounds as he fouled out after playing just 20 minutes. Maten was averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game.
LSU: The Tigers won the game at the foul line. LSU made 23 field goals, which were nine fewer than Georgia’s total. However, the Tigers made 37 of their 55 free throw attempts. The Bulldogs went to the foul line just 24 times and made 15.
Georgia plays at Baylor on Saturday.
LSU plays Oklahoma at home on Saturday.