GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman — Illinois State men's basketball was unable to recover from a sluggish start, falling 77-61 to Louisiana State to open the Cayman Islands Classic.
From the start, the Redbirds struggled to keep up with the Tigers as former Murray State Racer and Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year KJ Williams dominated from the opening tip.
ISU was unable to find an answer for the senior forward as he would tally 22 points in the first half alone.
The offensive side of the ball was no better as the Redbirds were unable to find success at any level. ISU would shoot just 26% from the field in the first half. All of this would lead to a dominant 45-18 first half for LSU.
The Redbirds came out with more fire on the offensive end in the second half but still struggled to stop Williams. In the game, the senior forward would finish with 33 points on 13-19 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists.
The Redbirds' offense came in the form of Darius Burford, Seneca Knight and Colton Sandage in the second half. The trio gave life to ISU as Burford would lead them with 17 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Burford has now scored 16 or more points in each of the last three games for ISU.
Knight would follow that up with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists off the bench while Sandage added 12 points.
Despite that second-half effort, the Redbirds were still unable to keep up with the Tigers as seemingly every time ISU put together a run, LSU would respond.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Tigers had come away with a 77-61 win to open the event.
ISU's early-season turnover struggles continued with 19 turnovers in the game.