LSU's Malcolm White (5) is knocked down while trying to return a rebound against Georgia on Wednesday as LSU beats the Bulldogs.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Even after his team jumped out to a quick double-digit lead, LSU coach Trent Johnson knew that it would not be easy putting Georgia away.
That's exactly how the game unfolded as the Tigers needed four foul shots in the last half-minute to come away with a 61-53 victory against the Bulldogs in a Southeastern Conference game on Wednesday night.
LSU (17-10, 7-6) scored the first 10 points of the game and never trailed. However, with about 6½ minutes left to play, the Tigers were holding on to a three-point lead at 45-42. LSU, which has won five of its last six games, went on a 9-2 run to build another double-digit lead.
"One thing we talked about was getting off to better starts," Johnson said. "We had good energy and our execution was good at the start of the game. But, with all the videotape of Georgia we watched, we knew Georgia wasn't going anywhere."
The Bulldogs (12-15, 3-10) made one more run at the Tigers. Gerald Robinson, Jr. made two field goals and two free throws to help pull Georgia within four points at 57-53 with 27 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs didn't score again, while both Ralston Turner and Justin Hamilton made two foul shots for LSU.
"We showed some fragileness when our lead was getting down to three and four points," Johnson said. "But, then we did a good job with our poise. We want Ralston at the line and we want Justin at the line because they shoot it well."
Andre Stringer led the Tigers with 18 points. He matched his career-high with four 3-pointers. Johnny O'Bryant was the only other LSU player in double figures with 14 points.
"Coach (Johnson) has us practice our shooting every day," said Stringer, who was 6-of-12 from the field. "I have a lot of confidence when I shoot the ball. Sometimes, the results are not what we want. Tonight, the shots went down."
Robinson scored 17 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope chipped in 10 to lead Georgia, which lost its third straight.
"It's hard to win when you don't come as prepared to play as you need to," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "We got off to a very poor start and we played uphill from that point forward."
O'Bryant made a field goal and converted a three-point play, Stringer connected on a 3-pointer and Anthony Hickey drove for a layup for the Tigers' first 10 points.
The Tigers maintained at least an eight point lead until the final seconds of the half. Trailing 29-17, Georgia scored the last six points before halftime on field goals by Caldwell-Pope, Dustin Ware and Robinson.
LSU could not pull away from Georgia in the second half. The Tigers went ahead by eight points on a couple of occasions — the last time at 42-34 after a 3-pointer by Stringer. However, the Bulldogs reduced their deficit to three points at 45-42 following a three-point play by Donte' Williams with 6:49 to play.
Then, LSU put together the key run which wrapped up the victory. Stringer started the outburst with a 3-pointer. After another basket by Williams, Turner knocked down a 3 — his only field goal of the game. Two foul shots by Hamilton and one by Chris Bass built the Tigers' lead to 10 points.
"Getting back in a position to win the game after a slow start was the mission," Fox said. "We got back and had a chance to win it, but they made those back-to-back 3s which really hurt us."