LSU tops North Texas in back-and-forth contest

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Will Baker scored a team-high 16 points and made the turnaround jumper with 37 seconds left that sealed LSU’s 66-62 victory over North Texas on Friday in a consolation semifinal at the Charleston (S.C.) Classic.

LSU (2-2) recovered from an opening-round loss to Dayton and will face the winner of the contest between Towson and Wake Forest in the fifth-place game Sunday. North Texas will play the loser of that game for seventh place.

The Tigers trailed for 21:38 of game time, but neither team led by more than five points until the final 20.1 seconds. LSU twice clawed ahead by one point at 48-47 and 56-55, but North Texas had a response each time.

Then Derek Fountain made a spin-move layup in the low post for LSU to go ahead 58-57 with 4:09 to play. The Tigers followed with four free throws, while capitalizing on a 6:09 span without a made field goal for North Texas.

After Rubin Jones’ free throws cut the Mean Green’s deficit to 62-59, Baker caught a pass at the baseline, dribbled and stepped back to swish the basket that made it a five-point game again.

Fountain had 14 points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting and seven rebounds for LSU. Jordan Wright added 12 points and six boards.

Jason Edwards had a game-high 22 points for North Texas (2-2), including 8-for-8 shooting at the foul line and four 3-pointers. He made his final triple with 11 seconds left but could not get the Mean Green any closer.

Jones had 15 points and seven rebounds and John Buggs III had 14 points and sunk 4-of-8 attempts from 3-point territory for North Texas.

The first half saw 14 lead changes and two ties. Edwards made his second 3-pointer for a 19-14 North Texas edge with 10:21 left in the half.

LSU scored the next six points while the Mean Green hit a scoring drought of more than 3:30.

Wright sank a 3-pointer to put LSU ahead 23-21, but Buggs and Jones answered with 3-pointers on the next two North Texas possessions.

The Tigers called a timeout and it helped, as they pulled off an 8-0 run. But Buggs responded with a 3 and a floater high off the glass for a 32-31 lead.

After the teams traded baskets, Trae Hannibal’s driving layup with 35 seconds left gave LSU a 35-34 halftime edge.