Lloreda scores 30 in return to action

LSU senior Jaime Lloreda had waited long enough. <br><br> Sitting out the first two exhibition game and the season opener Friday against Southern due to disciplinary actions, the Panama native wasted no time in showing the 3,583 fans in the Maravich Center he was happy to be back. <br><br> Lloreda scored 30 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in LSU's 87-77 defeat of McNeese State Monday night.

The 30-point, 20-rebound performance was the first by an LSU player since Shaquille O'Neal had 30 points and 20 rebounds in a February 1992 win over Auburn.


An exuberant John Brady was happy to have his star back in the line-up against the Cowboys Monday night.


"I knew he scored some baskets, but I didn't know he had 21 rebounds," Brady said. "But here is how I am. I'm not looking at the glass half empty, but he had six turnovers. That's something he will have to work on.


"For Jaime to come out in his first game and get 30 points, 21 rebounds, and four blocks in 37 minutes, that's pretty good. I don't care who you play."


While Lloreda gives the Tigers a consistent offensive threat, Brady said his impact is felt throughout the team.


"Jaime makes a difference with our confidence level," Brady said. "I wouldn't have wanted to play this game without him. I think we'll be better Wednesday because we are settling into Jaime now and we're developing an idea of what we need to do."


 LSU (2-0) fell behind early against a scrappy, up-tempo McNeese State (1-1) squad. The Cowboys led the Tigers for the first 10 minutes of the game. LSU began to pull away at the midway point of the half, going on a 12-2 run. A Xavier Whipple free throw with 9:09 left in the half gave LSU a 21-20 lead they never gave up.


Poor free-throwing shooting and a career-night by Edward Garriet from the 3-point line kept the Cowboys in the game. McNeese cut LSU's lead to 56-55 with 12:53 seconds remaining. However, the Tigers responded by scoring 14 of the next 16 points and put the game away.


Garriet finished the game as the leading scorer for the Cowboys with 24 points, all from beyond the 3-point line. Lloreda's 30 points led LSU. Darrel Mitchell added 16 while freshman Brandon Bass had 15 points and 12 rebounds.


Happy with the victory, Brady said his young squad must continue to improve as the season progresses.


"I don't know what to say about our team," Brady said. "Sometimes I think we play pretty well and it looks like we are about to separate the score and make plays that we shouldn't make."


One stat that did put a smile on the coach's face was the Tigers ability to get to the free throw line. LSU shot 47 free throws, including 31 in the second half.


"We shot 47 free throws and we shot 40 free throws against Southern," Brady said. "What does that mean? It means we are getting fouled and throwing the ball to the post. We are doing the things that are necessary. The next step in making that work is making the free throws.


"We leave 24 points or so on the free throw line. It's the little things that we can correct hopefully, make some free throws and make some better decisions with the ball in critical times to really separate the score."


One of the players in charge of handling the ball in critical situations is freshman point guard Tack Minor. Brady said the Texas native had a much better second half and continues to improve in his role on the team.


"I thought Tack was better," Brady said. "He had three assists and two turnovers, which is positive, and he had one steal. I thought it was unfortunate for him that he got past some guys in the paint but our guys couldn't catch the ball when he threw it to them.


"I thought he made some real positive play. I thought he defended better. The biggest thing with him right now is to learn when to shoot and when not to. When you watched him play in high school he was wide open all the time. He got better tonight and he's going to get better as he moves along."

Known for his defense-first mentality, Brady was pleased with the improvement his squad continues to make on that end of the floor.


"I thought defensively, (McNeese) shot 36-percent from the field which is what we wanted," Brady said. "Our problem was that they hit some 3's that was unexpected. If they do that all year, they'll beat some people in that conference.


"I think the score was like it was because the turnovers that we had, they probably scored at least 20 points. That's what kept the score close. Overall, I think defensively we were better. That team made some tough shots to score 77 points. There are some things that we can correct and get better at doing and I think we'll be okay."


Perhaps the biggest benefactor of Lloreda's return to the lineup was Bass. Double-teamed throughout the first two exhibition games and the opener against Southern, Bass said he could see an immediate difference in how teams play him defensively with Lloreda back in the lineup.


"It's nice," Bass said. "It relieves a lot of pressure off of me. It takes a lot off of me now. I help him out now. Early in the game when Jaime got the ball down low, they were double-teaming him, not me now.


"It just makes me more comfortable out there. I will just be out there trying to help him instead of another person helping me."


Mitchell echoed Bass' sentiments of the importance of Lloreda's return.


"It helps out a whole lot," Bass said. "We've been waiting for this for a long time. It just shows how important Jaime is to the team."


The Tigers host Troy State on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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