Watford scores 22 and LSU overcomes Texas rally 69-67

NCAA Basketball
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP)Trendon Watford scored 22 points and LSU survived a furious second-half rally by Texas to earn a 69-67 win Saturday, the eighth in a row for the surging Tigers.

Watford’s tough layup put the Tigers up 62-60 before Skylar Mays made two free throws with 49 seconds left. Watford made two more with 16 seconds to play to all but seal the victory in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Texas (12-7), which had lost by 38 at West Virginia on Monday night, trailed by 16 early in the second half, then mounted a desperate comeback to take the lead 60-58 on a basket by Jericho Sims with just over four minutes left. The Longhorns changed the game when they switched to a high-pressure, full-court defense that forced a rash of turnovers and smothered LSU shooters.

Andrew Jones, who returned full time this season after missing most of the last two seasons after being diagnosed with leukemia, scored 20 points for the Longhorns. He had 12 in the second-half burst that snatched the lead, but also had a key turnover that allowed LSU (15-4) to tie it at 60-all on a basket by Darius Days.

Jericho Sims scored 14 for Texas on 7-of-9 shooting but didn’t score again after giving the Longhorns the lead.

BIG PICTURE

LSU: The Tigers took control of the SEC West by winning tight games late and they did it again. Of their eight straight victories, six have come by four points or less. Watford, who looked shaky from the free-throw line earlier in the game, calmly swished his big free throws at the end.

Texas: The Longhorns were missing injured forward Kamaka Hepa, who had started the previous seven games. He was averaging 5.3 points and most importantly gave Texas length on defense. Kai Jones got his first career start and delivered four points and three rebounds.

UP NEXT

LSU hosts Alabama on Wednesday.

Texas plays at TCU on Wednesday.

For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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