(Photo credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports)
After a nightmarish start to the season, LSU desperately needed a victory against North Texas in its second game of the Charleston Classic.
Following last-second losses to Nicholls and Dayton, Tigers coach Matt McMahon understood the severity of closing out Friday's game against the Mean Green. LSU trailed 57-56 with 4:31 remaining before a Derek Fountain bucket gave the Tigers the lead for good.
That late rally for a 66-62 victory propelled LSU to the fifth-place game of the Charleston Classic, where it will face Wake Forest in Charleston, S.C., on Sunday.
"We went down five in the second half and could have splintered, but with the leadership, our veterans had us connected and found a way to win the game," McMahon said. "Look forward to the next opportunity on Sunday."
Fountain keyed the victory for the Tigers (2-2), scoring 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting while also snatching a team-high seven rebounds.
"He was really aggressive at the basket," McMahon said. "I thought he made some big defensive plays as well."
Like LSU, Wake Forest (2-2) is looking to leave Charleston with a winning record after a pair of hard-fought games.
In their first-round matchup, the Demon Deacons let a 12-point, second-half lead slip to Utah in a 77-70 loss. Wake Forest rebounded Friday, outscoring Towson 15-3 over the last five minutes in a 71-61 win.
Central Michigan transfer Kevin Miller went on a personal 8-0 run to cement the Demon Deacons' win. Miller had 25 points in the game, while Gonzaga transfer Hunter Sallis poured in 24 on 8-for-12 shooting from the field.
"I am really proud of our team, that was a really gritty win. They're a very physical, well-coached team," Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said of Towson. "We needed that win."
The winner of Sunday's game will leave Charleston with a major-conference win and a second victory in three days.
"We just have to stay focused on getting better and preparing for what we know will be another really good team on Sunday," McMahon said. "That's the beauty of these tournaments. You don't get any easy games."
LSU edged the Demon Deacons 72-70 on Dec. 10, 2022, in the most recent meeting between the teams.
--Field Level Media