LSU wins third straight 84-67 over Vols

LSU head coach John Brady has preached it throughout his career at LSU. When the shots go in, his team looks a whole lot better. <br><br> Wednesday night against Tennessee, the shots went in. <br><br> Behind a career-high 22 points from Darrel Mitchell and 18 points from Jaime Lloreda, LSU beat the Volunteers 84-67 in the Maravich Assembly Center.

After Tennessee (11-7, 3-5) jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, the Tigers (15-4, 5-3) went on an 11-2 run over the next five minutes taking a 13-8 lead with 13:02 remaining in the first half; a lead that they would never relinquish.

 

The Volunteers got it as close as 43-40 early in the second half, however the inside duo of Lloreda and Brandon Bass combined for back-to-back buckets pushing the lead back to seven.

Scooter McFadgon, the leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference, led the Volunteers with 21 points.

 

Brady said the performance against the Volunteers may have been the best game his team has played this season.

 

"I was really proud of our team," Brady said. "I thought our team played really well, particularly in the second half. Despite 12 turnovers, I thought we also played pretty well in the first half. I think (Xavier) Whipple had four and Jaime had five so that was nine of the 12, but Tennessee was doing a nice job double-teaming Jaime. That bothered him a little bit.

 

"I thought that if we continued to do the same thing in the second half and cut down on the turnovers, continue to rebound and defend them, we would have a chance to win the game."

Brady was also pleased with his team's shooting percentages. LSU shot 60-percent from the field hitting 55.6-percent (10-of-18) from beyond the three-point line.

 

"I can't tell you what it means to make a few shots from the perimeter," Brady said. "It can just change the whole look of your team. I've always said that we don't need to make every shot; we just need to make some timely shots. We did that tonight; we made a lot of timely shots.

"I was really proud of Antonio, Darrel Mitchell, Xavier came back and had a good second half and Tack Minor gave us a real lift off the bench. I thought they all played well."

 

Starting his second consecutive game, Mitchell said he felt good shooting the ball.

 

"When I took the first long shot, it just kind of ran through my body and it just felt good every time I took a shot," Mitchell said. "When it feels good, you just have a lot of confidence and when you have that, you can hit every shot."

 

The St. Martinsville native also had a career-high eight assists, something that surprised even Mitchell after the game.

 

"I didn't realize I had that many and when I saw it I was kind of shocked," Mitchell said. "If we can all just play like we did tonight to finish out SEC play, I think we will be very good."

 

While the offense stole the show against the Vols, Brady said his team's defense and ability to rebound was one of the biggest differences in the game.

 

"That team (Tennessee) was averaging making 21 free throws a game," Brady said. "They go to the line 11 times and make seven. That's 14 points that they usually get that they didn't. The other thing I told the team is when (Brandon) Crump, McFadgon, and (C.J.) Watson lead their team in scoring, they haven't lost a game. I said we need to take one of those guys out.

 

"Looking at the box score, Watson, who was averaging 12 (points), gets six. Put that six with the 14 they don't get off the line, in there somewhere is your 17-point victory. That was what our team was able to do."

 

With Lloreda battling foul trouble and only playing 27 minutes in the game, Brady was impressed with his team's ability to score and extend a lead without their leading scorer and rebounder on the court.

"In that time (with Lloreda not playing) our perimeter players really played well," Brady said. "We made some nice baskets. I think it was a confidence and growing experience for our team. For them to be able to play against a good Tennessee team without Jaime for that number of minutes and do some positive things and increase the score was big. If we can do that and learn and grow from that, it will be better for our team as a whole."

 

Coming off the bench for the second consecutive game, Brady felt that junior guard Antonio Hudson is playing more relaxed, which has been a contributing factor to his re-emergence offensively.

 

"When Antonio is playing well and shooting well our team is better," Brady said. "It was a move to help him. It allowed him to look at the game from a different perspective, take some pressure off of him of starting. He was moved out of the starting lineup to help him and encourage him to play better. Right now it looks like it was the right move because we are playing better."

 

Hudson said he agrees with his coach's assessment that he is more comfortable coming off the bench.

 

"I feel like I really don't have as much pressure on me now," Hudson said. "Now I'm not second guessing my shot. When you do that, nine times out of 10 it is not going to go in.

 

"Tonight it felt like everything I shot was going in. The first three I shot it just left my hands and felt good. I just kept going from there." 

 

The Tigers look to continue their hot play Saturday when they welcome Arkansas to Baton Rouge.

"We put ourselves in another positive position," Brady said. "Saturday Arkansas comes in here at 12:00 and we're excited about that. We have a chance now to really solidify second place and stay on Mississippi State if we can find some way to win the game on Saturday."


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