NCAA Regional Semifinal
1 Duke (32-3) vs. 4 LSU (25-8)
Atlanta, Ga. – Georgia Dome
7:10 p.m., CBS
Program Vitals Conference: SEC Nickname: Tigers Colors: Purple and Gold Head Coach: John Brady (9th year) Career Record at LSU: 165-110
Projected Starters: 22 Darrel Mitchell (5-11, 178, Sr.) – 17.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.5 apg 14 Garrett Temple (6-5, 176, Fr.) – 5.3 ppg, 2.8 apg 1 Tasmin Mitchell (6-7, 230, Fr.) – 11.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg 12 Tyrus Thomas (6-9, 215, Fr.) – 12.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg 0 Glen Davis (6-9, 310, So.) – 18.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.2 bpg Key Reserves: 35 Darnell Lazare (6-8, 240, Jr.) – 6.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg 4 Ben Voogd (6-1, 175, Fr.) – 1.1 ppg, 1.9 apg 15 Magnum Rolle (6-10, 215, Fr.) – 2.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg
How They Got Here: As soon as the brackets were announced, the various experts began pointing to a possible Duke-LSU match up in the Sweet 16. Only those plans were nearly derailed as the Tigers struggled early with Iona before pulling away for a comfortable 16 point win in the opening round. That was only a preview of things to come, however, as Texas A&M nearly knocked off Coach Brady's team in the second round. A three point basket with just under four seconds gave the Tigers a one point victory and a trip to Atlanta.
Star Watch: Perhaps one of the most unique athletes in the country is LSU's starting big man Glenn Davis, a.k.a. "Big Baby". At 6-foot-9 and 310 pounds, Davis has a surprisingly soft touch and as nimble as someone his size can be. Named the SEC's player of the year in 2006, the sophomore averaged 18.6 points, and 10.0 rebounds per contest while playing just under 32 minutes a night.
Joining Davis on the front line is the recently anointed freshman of the year in conference, Tyrus Thomas. At 6-foot-9 and 215 pounds, Thomas was second in the SEC in rebounding (9.3 per) and led the league in blocked shots with a staggering 3.0 per contest. An injury slowed him down towards the end of the year and rendered him unavailable for the SEC tournament, but Brady expects his prized freshman to be ready to go in Atlanta.
Thomas is the third consecutive Tiger to take home the post season hardware, following Brandon Bass and Glenn Davis over the previous two seasons.
While the frontcourt gets a lot of publicity, the Tigers simply don't win if senior point guard Darrell Mitchell isn't playing well. The 5-foot-11 Mitchell holds the distinction of being the only senior on the roster, and has made a habit of knocking down big shots all season. He's hit game winners against Texas A&M (NCAA Second Round), West Virginia (Nov 26), and against Arkansas (Feb 8).
The Series: This will mark the seventh meeting between the Blue Devils and Tigers, with Duke holding a commanding 5-1 series lead.
The first meeting was in Atlanta on March 3, 1930 in the old Southern Intercollegiate Tournament when Duke was a 43-34 winner. Duke then won a 1960 home game, while LSU's lone win in the series came in 1974 in Columbia, S.C., when LSU beat Duke, 105-95, in the Carolina Classic.
The big home and home made for CBS series between the teams came in 1991 and 1992 match Shaquille O'Neal of LSU and Christian Laettner and company, starting on Feb. 10, 1991, at Cameron Indoor Stadium ... Duke prevailed 88-70 as Laettner had 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead Duke while O'Neal had 15 points and 10 boards
In the rematch, a year later, LSU, before 14,310 paid and an actual crowd of 13,846 at the Assembly Center, trailed 34-28 at the half and came back in the second half to take a lead, only to have Laettner make back-to-back treys to put Duke ahead for good, winning 77-67. The Duke legend finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while O'Neal finished with 25 and 12.
The most recent match-up came just a year later when Duke beat the Tigers 96-67 in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational. The Blue Devils were lead by Thomas Hill's 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting.
Fighting History: Perhaps the youth movement in Baton Rouge is a good thing, because the Tigers will be looking to beat a higher seeded opponent for the first time in 19 years. In 1987 LSU, seeded 10th, beat seventh seed Georgia Tech, second seeded Temple, and third seed DePaul before losing to top seeded Indiana in the regional final.
- Duke is appearing in the NCAA Tournament for a record 10th time (tied with North Carolina) as a No. 1 seed. Duke is 37-7 as a No. 1 seed, winning the National Championship as the top seed in 1992 and 2001. The Blue Devils are 3-0 all-time as the No. 1 seed against the No. 4 seed.
- Duke is 12-4 in the Sweet Sixteen under Coach K. The Blue Devils are 18-4 all-time in regional semifinal games. However the Blue Devils are just 4-5 all-time against teams from the SEC in the tournament.
- he Blue Devils lead the ACC in scoring offense (81.9 ppg.), field goal percentage (49.4 pct.), free throw percentage (76.0 pct.) and three-point field goal percentage (39.4 pct.). Duke's 1992 National Championship squad is the only team in conference history to lead the league in all four categories in a season. Only four teams (1992 Duke, 1986 North Carolina, 1984 North Carolina & 1964 Duke) have led the ACC in scoring offense, field goal percentage and free throw percentage in the same season.
- # Duke has held its opponents to 55 points or fewer in three of its last five NCAA Tournament games. The Blue Devils have allowed 65 points or fewer in 10 of the last 13 tournament games. In two tournament games this season, Duke is allowing just 57.5 points per game. Southern and George Washington combined to shoot just 33.1 percent (43-of-130) from the field against the Blue Devils.
- Shelden Williams became Duke's career rebounding leader in the win over George Washington. He now has 1,249 career rebounds – passing Mike Gminski's career total of 1,242 boards.