When Tim Quarterman scored 21 points at West Virginia to help LSU past the ranked Mountaineers in early December, that felt like a coming out party for the much-improved sophomore guard.
What Quarterman did Saturday night in the House that Pete Built – establishing a new career high with 27 points and willing the Tigers past Georgia in a game LSU had no business winning during much of overtime – cemented his place as arguably the most important player on a Bayou Bengal team still finding its way two games into the SEC season.
Quarterman, who had 11 points at halftime, exploded at the end of regulation and into two extra frames to lift LSU (12-3, 1-1) past Georgia (9-5, 0-2) in double overtime by the final score of 87-84.
In the process the Savannah native exorcised demons from his freshman season and reminded folks back home what they're missing.
"It means a lot," Quarterman reflected after the game. "Last year we lost to them twice, once at their house and then they came in here on Senior Night in our house and beat us. It means a lot to win this game tonight, especially being from Georgia. It was a big game for me."
That's putting it mildly.
In a contest that saw Jarell Martin, LSU's leading scorer on the season, foul out and Jordan Mickey double-teamed frequently, Quarterman added to his scoring haul five rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks.
He was most lethal when LSU looked dead in the water, scoring nine of the team's 13 points in overtime and almost single-handedly erasing a 77-68 Georgia lead with 2:21 remaining in the first extra period.
"Tim definitely came up big for us tonight," Mickey recalled. "He did a lot of scoring at the end of regulation and in overtime. He hit some big-time threes and made some big-time steals for us tonight."
But, according to several players and head coach Johnny Jones, Quarterman's impact didn't end with production.
"I thought at timeouts there in the huddle he reiterated to guys quite often that we weren't going to lose the game," Jones said, looking back.
Freshman Jalyn Patterson, who set a career best of his own with 15 points, recognized the emotional lift from Quarterman, too.
"He's a beast," Patterson said of his fellow native Georgian. "He keeps fighting. He's not ever going to stop playing. He believes hard. That's what he did for us and he came through big for us."
In Quarterman's estimation it took the whole team to win a game that the whole team almost gave away, as LSU held a 64-57 advantage with 4:58 remaining in the second half.
"One of our big players went down in Jarell, and other players had to find ways to step up," Quarterman continued. "Josh [Gray] hit a big and-one late. I made some plays. Jalyn made some free throws. Keith [Hornsby] made some free throws. So everybody just stepped up as a team. Jordan got some key rebounds. It was a whole team effort tonight."
Considering four different Tigers scored at least 15 points, there's some validation to Quarterman's claim.
But to anyone that watched the game there was one player that stood above the rest, turning unfettered determination into a spark that resurrected a near-lost cause.
The one that got away from Georgia is one LSU can't do without these days.
Quarterman saves LSU, buries home-state Dawgs
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