Darius Days scores 26, LSU basketball finishes strong to beat Liberty

Staff and wire reports

BATON ROUGE  — Darius Days scored 26 points and LSU pulled away in the second half to win its third straight, knocking off Liberty 74-58 on Monday night.

Liberty led for the final 7:22 of the first half and held a 26-25 lead at intermission. Day hit a 3-pointer to start the second half to put LSU in front, but the Flames took the lead again on back-to-back 3-pointers from Brody Peebles.

Brandon Murray hit a 3 to put the Tigers in front for good at 53-52 and spark a 24-6 run to close the game out.

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“We played so hard defensively," LSU coach Will Wade said. "That’s three-straight teams we’ve held under 60 points. I thought we were jittery on offense in the first half. We just need to calm down we took some uncharacteristic shots. We’re falling for their eye candy. We’re trying to take the first decent look we can get instead of getting a great look and so I thought we settled down in the second half. Obviously,  Days was tremendous.

Days hit 5 of 10 from 3-point range and collected three steals for LSU (3-0). Efton Reid added 13 points and Xavier Pinson added 10 points and dished seven assists while Eric Gaines added 10 points and collected five steals.

Darius McGhee led Liberty (1-1) with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists. Peebles hit 3 of 5 from long range and finished with 12 points.

An NCAA Tournament team a year ago, the Flames have won the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament titles the past three seasons and posted 20 or more wins in each of the past five.

“We made our free throws," said Wade. "We weren’t as solid as we need to be on defense; we had two fouls where we reached and gave them four points. We didn’t turn the ball over offensively; most of our turnovers were offensive fouls. I thought the crowd was great, we fed off the energy; the students were great. A 6 p.m. tip-off is a lot harder to get to, but I thought the crowd was really good.”