Mickey delivers huge performance as LSU never trails in 73-55 victory over Tennessee



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LSU forward Jordan Mickey (25) goes to the basket as Tennessee guards Robert Hubbs III (3), Derek Reese (23) and Armani Moore (4) attempt to defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. LSU won 73-55. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Lau)


LSU forward Jordan Mickey, left, makes a layup against Tennessee guard Armani Moore during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. LSU won 73-55. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Lau)


Tennessee forward Willie Carmichael III, center, struggles to drive the ball against LSU forward Jarell Martin (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. LSU won 73-55. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Lau)


Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall, right, shouts at a referee on the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against LSU in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. LSU won 73-55. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Lau)


LSU guard Tim Quarterman (55) leaps to the hoop and is fouled by Tennessee guard Josh Richardson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. LSU won 73-55. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Lau)


Tennessee guard Armani Moore, bottom, crashes into LSU forward Jarell Martin (1) while driving to the hoop during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. LSU won 73-55. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Lau)


LSU forwards Brian Bridgewater (20) and Jordan Mickey (25) out-muscle Tennessee guard Kevin Punter (0) for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Lau)


LSU center Darcy Malone, right, blocks a shot by Tennessee guard Derek Reese (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Lau)


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — LSU showed no hangover effect in its first game since a painful loss to No. 1 Kentucky.

The close call against the nation's top-ranked team instead boosted the Tigers' confidence and helped them finally reach their full potential, at least for 20 minutes.

Jordan Mickey had 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks Saturday as LSU rode a dominant first-half performance to a 73-55 victory over Tennessee. The lopsided victory came four days after LSU led late in the second half of a 71-69 loss to Kentucky.

"We played the No. 1 team in the country to a two-point game, and we believe we should have possibly won it," Mickey said. "We came in knowing we're a good team. We know what we're capable of doing."

The Tigers (18-7, 7-5 SEC) ended a six-game losing streak in this series and beat Tennessee for the first time since a 79-73 victory in Knoxville on Jan. 28, 2009.

LSU never trailed and grabbed a 47-20 halftime lead by shooting 64 percent (16 of 25) in the first 20 minutes. The Tigers ended up shooting 53 percent (25 of 47) against Tennessee's matchup zone.

"We practice a lot against that zone, and our rotations were perfect," LSU guard Keith Hornsby said. "It seemed we always knew where our teammates were, no matter where we were on the court, and gave them good looks. We capitalized on that. And coming off the Kentucky game, there were a lot of great things to take away from that, even though we lost. We were coming in here pretty thrilled and ready to play, and it certainly showed in the first half."

Hornsby had 16 points and seven assists while leading the perimeter attack for LSU, which shot 9 of 19 from 3-point range. Tim Quarterman added 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Armani Moore scored 16 points, Josh Richardson had 15 points and Derek Reese added 11 for Tennessee (14-10, 6-6). The Vols went on a 13-0 run early in the second half to reduce a 28-point deficit to 15, but that's as close as they would get.

While LSU was bouncing back from an emotional loss, Tennessee was coming off a thrilling victory. The Volunteers won 76-73 at Vanderbilt in overtime on Wednesday after erasing a five-point deficit in the final 15 seconds of regulation.

But the Vols couldn't build on that momentum. The 18-point margin matched Tennessee's most one-sided loss of the season.

"That's the worst half of any team I've ever coached in 10 years — that first half," Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall said. "I can't explain it. We missed about 10 layups. We played hesitant. We played nervous. We played scared. And that falls on my shoulders. I obviously did a bad job of preparing our team."

TIP-INS

LSU: Mickey's seven blocks matched a career high. LSU finished the game with nine blocks as a team. LSU entered the day with 6.4 blocks per game to rank sixth among all Division I programs.

Tennessee: Vols guard Robert Hubbs left the game early in the first half with an apparent injury to his thumb or hand, but he returned and scored three points in 29 minutes. Tyndall said the injury would require further evaluation.

STAT LINES

Mickey was three blocks away from becoming the first LSU player to record a triple-double since Shaquille O'Neal had 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 blocks in a 1992 NCAA tournament victory over BYU. ... Tennessee forward Willie Carmichael played just 10 minutes before fouling out with zero points and one rebound. Carmichael's fifth foul came with 12:12 left in the game.

VOLS' HOME STRUGGLES

Tennessee is now 4-2 in SEC road competition but only 2-4 in conference home games. The Vols host Kentucky on Tuesday.

"If we practice the right way, prepare the right way and play the right way on Tuesday, we'll have a chance to be competitive in that game," Tyndall said. "But if we play the way we did the first half against Kentucky, they'll beat us (by) 100."

NEXT UP

LSU visits Texas A&M on Tuesday.

Tennessee hosts No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday.

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