BATON ROUGE, La. -- Justin Hamilton registered his first double-double of the season as LSU defeated UC Irvine 66-59 in a nonconference game on Thursday night.
Hamilton, a transfer from Iowa State, finished with 14 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. After the Tigers (7-3) had their lead reduced to four points at 50-46, Hamilton scored their next six points on two field goals and two free throws. Hamilton's second basket put LSU on top 56-49.
The Anteaters (2-8) pulled within five points at 61-56 with 24 seconds to play after a pair of field goals by Adam Folker. The Tigers closed out the victory by making five free throws -- two by both Eddie Ludwig and Anthony Hickey and one by Hamilton.
Ludwig was the only other player in double figures for LSU with 12 points, which equaled his career high.
Michael Wilder matched his season-high with 19 points for UC Irvine.
LSU recovered from a slow offensive start in which it missed seven of its first eight shots to take a 28-16 lead into halftime. An early 15-4 run catapulted the Tigers into an 18-11 lead. Jalen Courtney came off the bench to score five points in that spurt. A field goal by Hamilton completed the outburst.
After UC Irvine reduced its deficit to four points at 18-14 on a three-point play by Will Davis, LSU scored the next 10 points. Field goals by Ralston Turner and Storm Warren started the run. A 3-pointer by Chris Bass put the Tigers on top 28-14.
Ludwig got LSU off to a quick start in the second half by knocking down his second 3-pointer of the game. A 3-pointer by John Isaac gave the Tigers a 44-30 lead with 11:46 left. The Anteaters stayed in the game by scoring nine consecutive points -- five by Wilder.
LSU briefly stopped the UC Irvine rally when Turner sank a pair of foul shots on back-to-back possessions. But two free throws by Daman Starring and a 3-pointer by Wilder left the Anteaters behind 50-46 with 6:21 remaining.
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