BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — LSU freshman Antonio Blakeney responded to his removal from the starting lineup by bursting out of a recent shooting slump at an opportune time.
Craig Victor scored 18 points, Blakeney added 13 of his 15 points in the final eight minutes, and LSU defeated Mississippi 90-81 on Wednesday night.
Blakeney "stayed engaged in the game. He came in and played hard on the defensive end of the floor and allowed the flow of the game and the ball to come to him," LSU coach Johnny Jones said. "He did a great job down the stretch being focused, to not sit there and be tense or tight because he came off of the bench. He did a great job of relaxing and making necessary plays."
Ben Simmons scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half to help LSU (10-6, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) stay close to an Ole Miss squad buoyed by Stefan Moody's spectacular shot-making until Blakeney and Tim Quarterman helped the Tigers surge in front for good inside the final five minutes.
Quarterman also was relegated to the bench because Jones wanted to reward two guards — Jalyn Patterson and Josh Gray — for their recent effort in practice. Quarterman finished with 14 points, 12 in the second half as he combined with Blakeney to score 25 of the Tigers' last 34 points.
"It was fun. It was kind of a throwback," Quarterman said of coming off the bench. "Coach left me in at the end of the game to finish the game. We got the win and that's all that counts."
Moody scored a career-high 33 points for Ole Miss (12-4, 2-2), which led for much of the second half before being outscored 34-19 during the final 9:19.
"We have to get Moody some help," Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. "We are just so thin in other departments. We need contributions from other guys."
Blakeney's 3 gave LSU an 83-78 lead with 2:31 left.
Anthony Perez, who had 10 points for Ole Miss, was called for an intentional foul on Victor away from the ball with 1:07 to go, and Victor hit a free throw to make it 88-81, with the Tigers keeping the ball. Moody then fouled Quarterman, whose free throws concluded the scoring for the night.
Ole Miss led for the first 12 minutes of the second half, but never by more than six. The Rebels were up 62-56 on Martavious Newby's layup, then LSU responded with methodical 10-2 run that included a 3 and layup by Quarterman. Blakeney closed that surge with three free throws after he was fouled on a missed 3, giving the Tigers their first lead of the half at 66-64.
Mississippi: Moody has now scored 30 or more three times this season. ... Brooks, who came in with a scoring average of 7.9 points per game, reached double-digit points for the third straight game.
LSU: The Tigers improved to 9-1 at home, the only previous loss coming against Wake Forest Dec. 29. ... Blakeney hadn't scored more than 14 points since his 22-point night against South Alabama on Nov. 19. ... Patterson, who had five points, made his fourth start of the season in place of Blakeney, while Gray, who had seven points, made his third start in place of Quarterman.
IN THE MOOD
The Rebels led much of the game thanks to Moody, whose first 12 points came on four 3s within the first 9 minutes. At one point. He hit a 3 from close to 30 feet away. Early in the second half, he rose above the rim for a put-back dunk.
"He can jump over you defense and make shots," Jones said "It's hard staying connected to him."
Jones said he was skeptical about whether Moody is as tall as his listed height of 5-foot-10, but added, "He could be 4-11 the way he shoots that thing."
LSU made 17 of 24 shots in the second half.
"We really just pushed the ball and tried to take good shots," Blakeney said.
Kennedy said the Rebels should have made it tougher for LSU.
"We were way too loose and easy on the defensive end tonight," Kennedy said. "We could not get stops. Then when we did, we got outrebounded."
Mississippi: Hosts Florida on Saturday.
LSU: Hosts Arkansas on Saturday.