In the arena that bears his name, former LSU All-American Pete Maravich would have been proud Wednesday night.
Passes were flying, shots were going up at a dizzying pace, and the scoreboard high above the Pete Maravich Assembly Center floor changed at a fast and furious pace when LSU and North Florida got together.
Maravich certainly would have loved the frenetic offensive show, which LSU needed to come back from an early 14-point deficit and finally get on track for a 119-108 win over North Florida.
The wild victory over a hot-shooting North Florida team snapped a three-game losing streak for LSU (4-3) and gave the Tigers something to be happy about going into an 11-day break for final exams.
Ben Simmons poured in a career-high 43 points to lead five LSU players in double figures as the Tigers came back from a 56-48 halftime deficit to take it away from North Florida (6-3).
Guards Tim Quarterman and Josh Gray each had 20 points and six assists for LSU. Forward Aaron Epps contributed a career-high 14 points and guard Jalyn Patterson added 11.
Simmons, whose stat line also included 14 rebounds and seven assists, won a scoring battle with North Florida’s Beau Beech and Dallas Moore. They scored 31 points each as the Ospreys tried to take the Tigers out with a barrage of long-range shots.
North Florida, which was shooting 44.4 percent and averaging 12 made field goals from beyond the 3-point arc for the season, put on a show in the first half in hitting 10-of-16.
The Ospreys were 20-of-37 overall for 54.1 percent.
Beech was the main culprit in going 6-of-7 from 3-point range, which helped him score 22 points. Moore, who was averaging 20.3 points per game, added 11 as UNF held a comfortable lead for most of the first half after taking a 14-point advantage at the 9:21 mark.
But Simmons spurred a late first-half run that seemingly woke LSU up.
He scored on back-to-back dunks and hit a pair of free throws in the final 86 seconds that gave the Tigers some much-needed momentum going to the locker room.
In the second half, Simmons picked up where he left off.
He scored the first eight points of the second half while North Florida was getting only one 3-pointer in the first 2½ minutes to pull his team to within three points at 59-56.
Simmons, who was 15-of-20 from the field, continued to spark LSU. He scored four of the Tigers’ next six points and teamed with Gray, Quarterman and Patterson to get their team on a roll.
Then, after Moore hit a 3-pointer for a 71-64 lead with 14:58 to play, LSU went on a 16-4 run in a span of 2 minutes, 29 seconds. During that time, the Tigers took their first lead since they were up 2-0 on a basket by Simmons just 26 seconds into the contest.
LSU, which had shot 35.1 percent from the field during its three-game losing streak, shot 51.4 percent in the first half after a poor start.
But the Tigers lit it up in the second half, making 27-of-35 shots for a blistering 77.1 percent. They finished the game 45-of-70 for a season-high 64.3 percent in putting on the high-flying show.
North Florida made 19-of-33 from beyond the 3-point arc for 57.6 percent, but shot 51.3 percent overall.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.