CONWAY, S.C. -- Sam McLaurin grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and Coastal Carolina turned a huge rebounding advantage into a 71-63 victory over LSU on Tuesday night.
It was the third victory for the Chanticleers (3-0) in 13 tries against teams from a BCS conference, including a win last year over the Tigers in Baton Rouge.Coastal Carolina dominated the boards primarily in the first half, during a 23-6 run from which the Tigers (2-1) never fully recovered. The Chanticleers finished the game with 53-34 rebounding advantage."We knew they were bigger and they were deeper," said McLaurin, a junior who also scored 13 points. "Coach said we had the guys who could go out and do it."Coastal Carolina guard Anthony Raffa led all scorers with 20 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds, and his backcourt partner Kierre Greenwood scored 13.LSU forward Ralston Turner was the top scorer for the Tigers (1-1), finishing with 15 points.The game, originally scheduled as a marquee opener for Coastal Carolina's Student Recreation and Convocation Center, was moved back to 1,039-seat Kimbel Arena after Convocation Center construction was delayed over the summer.Regardless of the location, fourth-year LSU coach Trent Johnson said the game hinged on one factor."It's hard to win when you get outrebounded by 20," he said.Ellis and Coastal Carolina players said the game was a milestone for a Big South Conference program. Outside of last year's victory at LSU, the only other opponent the Chanticleers defeated from a school in a BCS conference came in 1993, when Coastal defeated South Carolina.Coastal played without the three players who had the biggest impact on last year's victory over the Tigers. Chad Gray ran out of eligibility, Mike Holmes was kicked off the team and Desmond Holloway left the team after being suspended for what was eventually ruled a secondary NCAA violation. Those three players combined to score 54 points last year against the Tigers and helped the Chanticleers to a second straight NIT bid.Even with a handful of new faces, the Chanticleers took care of business."Everyone knows we were here to play," McLaurin said. "We're a program on the rise."