BATON ROUGE, La. — Freshman Cameron Thomas had a season-high 29 points, Trendon Watford added 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and LSU beat Nicholls 86-80 on Saturday.
Darius Days had 15 points and eight rebounds for LSU (5-1).
Thomas hit a tiebreaking jumper to spark a 15-4 run that gave Tigers a 25-14 lead when his layup capped the spurt with 13:10 left in the first half and the Colonels trailed the rest of the way. Watford converted three-point plays 36 seconds apart and added a jumper in the run.
Damien Sears made 8 of 9 from the field and finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and two steals for Nicholls (2-4). Jeremiah Buford scored 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and Ty Gordon had 12 points.
The Colonels, who have lost four in a row, trimmed their deficit to three points on six different occasions but got no closer. Jalen Cook made two free throws to push LSU’s lead to 10 points with 1:01 to play but Najee Garvin answered with a layup and, after a turnover by Cook, Buford hit a 3 to trim Nicholl’s deficit to 85-80 with 42 seconds remaining. The Colonels went 0 for 2 from the field with a turnover thereon.
Nicholls, due to a COVID-19 protocols, played for the first time since its 73-50 loss at Saint Mary’s on Dec. 1.
LSU guard Javonte Smart, who is averaging 15.8 points on 63% shooting this season, did not play for unspecified reasons. Freshman Eric Gaines made his first start in Smart’s place, finished with one point, two assists, a block and a steal in 15 minutes of action.