The College of Charleston picked up biggest win of the Earl Grant era Monday night, defeating LSU 70-58. A capacity crowd of over 4,700 rushed the court as the final buzzer sounded, dealing LSU a stunning third consecutive loss.
Led by Canyon Barry’s 19 points, the Cougars fed off of the raucous crowd to build a 22 point halftime lead.
“I think it’s one of the most fun games I’ve played,” Canyon Barry said. “The students were great. The fans were great. We appreciate all of Charleston coming out and supporting us, and we were happy to be able to execute our game plan and come out with a win.”
That game plan revolved around LSU’s freshman phenom Ben Simmons. Projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, he was the focal point of the Cougars attention.
“We talked about having six hands around him at all times,” Coach Grant said. “I thought we forced him into some uncharacteristic turnovers. He had his moments, but we made him work.”
Although Simmons managed to tally 18 rebounds, the Cougars took advantage of his passing prowess by maintaining single coverage on him all night. With fewer double teams, the Cougars were able to force him to commit a season-high 7 turnovers, many resulting from contested kick-outs from the post.
Stingy defense was crucial to the Cougars success, especially on their 28-7 run to close the last 13:40 of the first half.
LSU showed their grit early in the second half, mounting a 23-11 run to cut the deficit to 50-40 with 9:30 to play.
“We knew they were going to come out hungry so we had to stay aggressive to keep the lead and finish the game,” Junior guard Cameron Johnson said.
After closing out the team that was ranked as the No. 21 in the preseason AP Polls, LSU’s defeated star, Simmons said “They just outplayed us. They had more heart and were the better team tonight.”
The win marks the sixth time the College has defeated a school from the SEC, the last coming against at home against Tennessee on Dec. 14, 2011.
The Cougars improve to 4-0 when holding their opponent under 60 points.
Charleston’s next game will be on Sat. Dec. 5 when they travel to McAllister fieldhouse to face their crosstown rival, The Citadel.