National Basketball Association
Louisiana State 86, Nicholls State 80
When: 2:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 26, 2020
Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Officials: # R.B. Clybuen, # Josue Nieves, # Pat Adams
Attendance: 2198

Cam Thomas scored 29 points to lift LSU to an 86-80 victory over Nicholls State on Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge, La.

The matchup of in-state rivals was set late Thursday as both teams were looking to end long coronavirus-related layoffs.

LSU coach Will Wade returned to the bench after missing the Tigers' 88-66 victory against Sam Houston State on Dec. 14 because he tested positive for COVID-19.

Second-leading scorer Trendon Watford returned from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury to add 22 points. Darius Days had 15 points for the Tigers.

LSU (5-1) played without its third-leading scorer, guard Ja'Vonte Smart. Wade said earlier in the week that the team would play without an unidentified "major piece" because of COVID-19 issues, though the player was not sick.

Damien Sears scored 20, Jeremiah Buford added 14 and Ty Gordon had 12 for the Colonels (2-4), who were playing for the first time since Dec. 1. They had to cancel five games after shutting down their program on Dec. 7.

LSU led by five points at halftime and 3-pointers by Days and Thomas pushed the lead to 53-42 early in the second half.

Nicholls State closed within three points on five occasions, the last being at 68-65 after Gordon made two free throws midway through the half.

Jumpers by Thomas and Watford gave LSU a 72-65 lead before Sears answered with two free throws.

The Tigers increased the lead to 10 as the Colonels made just one field goal in a span of nearly eight minutes. The margin did not shrink to less than five points.

The score was tied three times before LSU took the lead for good.

Thomas' jumper and Watford's three-point play started a 15-4 run that gave the Tigers a 25-14 lead.

Ryghe Lyons' layup brought the Colonels within 25-19 before the Tigers extended the lead. Watford had a layup and Days made two free throws to push the lead to 35-24.

Gordon's 3-pointer started a 13-5 run that got Nicholls State within 40-37 before LSU took a 44-39 halftime lead.

--Field Level Media

Top Game Performances
Nicholls State   Louisiana State
Damien Sears 20 Scoring Cameron Thomas 29
Jeremiah Buford 5 Assists Trendon Watford 6
Damien Sears 9 Rebounds Trendon Watford 9
Damien Sears 4 Free Throws Made Cameron Thomas 7
Jeremiah Buford 3 Steals Jalen Cook 2
Kevin Johnson 1 Blocks Eric Gaines 1
Team Stats Summary
Team Points FG% 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals Turnovers
Nicholls State 80 45.7 8-35 8-14 17 33 4 9 14
Louisiana State 86 55.4 4-15 20-28 16 34 2 8 15