BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Rob Gray scored 19 points and Damyean Dotson added 13, but it wasn't enough as the Houston Cougars suffered their first defeat of the 2016-17 season. Antonio Blakeney scored 23 points and LSU pulled away in the second half for an 84-65 non-conference victory on Tuesday.
Blakeney, whose fast-break layup with one second remaining gave the Tigers a 39-38 halftime advantage and led an 8-0 run which enabled LSU (5-2) to take control of the game early in the second half. Blakeney made two baskets, one a 3-pointer, as the Tigers went ahead 53-42 with 15:50 to play. Houston (5-1) did not trail by fewer than nine points the rest of the way.
Blakeney scored 14 points, hitting a season-high 10 field goals, and grabbed five of his eight rebounds in the second half.
''In the second half, we did a great job executing offensively,'' LSU coach Johnny Jones said. ''On the defensive end, we were getting stops. As the game continued, our guys did a tremendous job competing at a high level against one of the better teams we will face prior to conference.''
LSU shot 50 percent from the field (36-of-72), including 44 percent on 3-pointers (8-of-18). But, the difference in the game was on the backboards, where the Tigers outrebounded the Cougars 46-28. LSU turned 20 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points.
''Winning the war on the boards and getting second-chance points was a focus,'' Blakeney said. ''That's why coach (Jones) started sending me to the glass.
''Craig (Victor) and all the bigs were trying to get rebounds because we got beat on the boards in the Bahamas. We were just trying to correct our mistakes.''
Three LSU players besides Blakeney scored in double figures. Brandon Sampson had 16 points, all but two in the first half. Victor had 13 points and nine rebounds in his first start of the year. Aaron Epps, who was replaced by Victor in the lineup, had 11 points and seven rebounds.
''We didn't play very well at all in any area in the first half, but we had a chance to get the lead,'' Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. ''I didn't see a lot of pop tonight. Their size was a factor. We had three starters who did not get a defensive rebound. We have to be a rebounding team.''
LSU: The Tigers lost two of three games last week at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, but remain unbeaten at home with their fourth straight victory. LSU, which blocked nine shots and made seven steals, lost 105-98 in overtime at Houston last season.
HOUSTON: The Cougars failed in their attempt to open a season 6-0 for just the fourth time in school history.
Following Tuesday's game, the Cougars return to the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion to play host to Prairie View A&M at 4 p.m., Saturday.
From there, the Cougars face their second straight SEC opponent on the road when they take on Arkansas at 6 p.m., Dec. 6, inside Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark.
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