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NCAAB: LSU faces Penn State as the schedule toughens in Niceville

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As LSU takes on Penn State, which appears to be their toughest opponent to date, will the Tigers’ string of early season total dominance end in Niceville, Fla.?

The undefeated, untested Tigers (5-0) take on the Nittany Lions (3-1) — their first power conference opponent of the season — in the second round of the Emerald Coast Classic on Friday.

The Tigers have yet to be pushed in 2021, winning by an average of 34.4 points. In their most recent game against Belmont on Monday, the Tigers turned it on in the second half, turning a 13-point halftime lead into an 83-53 final score.

Consider that No. 1 Gonzaga has outscored its first six opponents by an average of 30.7, and you get an idea of just how dominant the Tigers have been.

Brandon Murray and Tari Eason each scored 15 points to lead LSU against Belmont. Eason, who added seven rebounds, has been a nightmare for opponents coming off the bench, as he’s averaged 13.6 points and 8.8 rebounds in only 21.2 minutes a game.

“What more can you say about Tari Eason? He brings it every game,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “Brings his lunch pail. He’s talented and he makes things happen.”

Six players average at least nine points a game for the Tigers, led by the 19.2 from Darius Days, who also averages 7.4 rebounds a game.

In their first game of this tournament, the Tigers bombed McNeese State 85-46 in Baton Rouge on Nov. 18, with Eason again playing the hero off the bench with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

On the other side of the bracket, Penn State also cruised, defeating St. Francis Brooklyn 74-59. It was a nice rebound for the Nittany Lions from their first loss of the season, 81-56 to Massachusetts. Most recently, they beat previously undefeated Cornell 85-74 on Monday night.

“I told our guys as we were getting ready (for the Cornell game) that this was going to be a challenge,” Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “Our guys (were) focused in terms of how they were going to guard them, and I was proud of our effort.”

The Nittany Lions have three players in double-figure scoring. Sam Sessoms leads the team with 19.3 points per game, Seth Lundy is scoring 17.8 points and John Harrar is averaging 11.3 points and a team-leading 12.8 rebounds.

The winner of the LSU-Penn State game meets the Oregon State-Wake Forest winner Saturday. The losing teams also face each other Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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