Tigers squeak past Privateers 68-60

NEW ORLEANS—It's not easy having a team with five freshmen. Just ask John Brady. Coming off of an impressive comeback victory against Alabama on Saturday, LSU struggled but was able to beat the UNO Privateers 68-60 Monday night in the Lakefront Arena. <br><br> Brandon Bass led the Tigers with 18 points and Jaime Lloreda added 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Johnell Smith led UNO with 19 points.

Five minutes into the first half the Tigers (12-1) burst out to a 10-0 run to push their lead to 16-6 and it looked like it would be an easy night for Brady and his team. However, the Tigers would go 4:43 without a point and would only score two points in the final six minutes of the half. Despite shooting only 27.8-percent from the field, UNO (7-7) ended the first half on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 29-25.


The Tigers started out the second half hot from the 3-point line, hitting three early shots from beyond the arch and held a 44-36 with 12:30 left, but were not able to put the scrappy Privateer squad away.


UNO made their run midway through the second half, a 13-2 run, and tied the game at 49 on a jumper by Bo McCalebb. LSU answered the Privateer run with an 11-3 run to regain their lead and extend it 60-52 with 3:34 left. Clutch free throw shooting and offensive rebounds late for the Tigers; including two critical rebounds by Lloreda on missed free throws sealed the victory for LSU.


Expecting nothing less from his senior forward, Brady was happy with Lloreda's performance, particularly facing foul trouble throughout the game.


"That's what Jaime can do," Brady said. "He went back and got the rebound and played with three fouls and got his fourth and still played. That changed the game for us with those rebounds late. He also made free throws which was very good."


Brady said after the game that he knew if was going to be tough playing a game only 48 hours removed from their battle against the Crimson Tide.


"It is difficult playing a game like this and it is even more difficult having to play in 48 hours," Brady said. "It was a tough game; I didn't expect it to be any other way. Anyone who thought we would win the game because we showed up against UNO they have got to be kidding themselves."


Despite his team's less than impressive performance, Brady was happy to come away with the victory.


"The first half to have 11 turnovers against a zone defense with no pressure and we had a chance to really control the game, our team didn't make really good decisions against that zone," Brady said. "We didn't operate well at all against the zone defense. The second half we did a little bit better.

"We went back and got some offensive rebounds and made some free throws, but that first half to give them 12 offensive rebounds and for us to have 11 turnovers is poor. UNO was ready to play and hit some big shots that they normally hadn't made tonight. It was a tough game for us, but make no mistake about it, LSU won the game."


Brady credited a renewed intensity on defense late in the game as one of the major keys to victory.


"I thought we did a good job of doubling their post players inside late and made them turn the ball over some," Brady said. "We also started guarding the ball screen a little bit differently; we jumped out and double-teamed it down the stretch."


Sophomore guard Darrel Mitchell said the Tigers must continue to show that kind of intensity throughout the entire game if they are to be successful.


"At times we were just getting aggravated on defense," Mitchell said. "On the road you can't slack at any time because once you get a lead you have to keep it because they will always come back at you. We just got lackadaisical on defense and they hit big shots."


Bass echoed his teammate's sentiments.


"Sometimes we just start off bad and we just let it go or we start off good and then it slacks," Bass said. "We just have a hard time being aggressive for the entire game.


"We just were not executing our plays. We would get a nice lead and get relaxed. We just need to be aggressive the whole time and throughout the whole game and we will win."


Facing what could be an undefeated Mississippi State team on Saturday at 2:00, Brady said his team must continue to improve.


"Certainly we are going to have to play better against Mississippi State," Brady said. "I'm going to watch them play Kentucky Tuesday night on television and I won't be surprised if Mississippi State wins the game. Our game Saturday at home is going to be something. I hope they come in there undefeated. We'll see how we are going to be against a very competitive opponent. The difference we'll be that we are at our place and a big crowd."


Mitchell looks forward to the match-up against the Bulldogs.


"It's going to be a real big game," Mitchell said. "I expect a sellout crowd. We need to just go out there and play hard, defend and keep our home court to try and pull out a big win because it is going to be a tough game Saturday."

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