Turnovers costly for LSU against Miami

NEW ORLEANS -- Sloppy play and the resulting turnovers cost LSU a chance at victory Thursday night in its Sugar Bowl Classic match-up with Miami. The Tigers were able to tie the Hurricanes in the final two minutes of the game but could not come through in the clutch in a 68-61 loss at New Orleans Arena.

A put-back basket from LSU forward Brad Bridgewater tied the score at 61-61 with 1:27 left to play. After a timeout, Miami worked a reversal play to get Marcus Barnes open for a 3-pointer that he drained with 55.4 seconds remaining. On the ensuing LSU possession, Collis Temple III elected to take a quick 3-pointer, rather than running the set play, and came up short. Miami rebounded and extended its lead with two free throws from Barnes, who also scored the final basket of the game in transition following another LSU missed field goal.

The loss dropped LSU to 9-3 on the season with one non-conference game remaining on the schedule before the Tigers begin Southeastern Conference play against Alabama on Jan. 5. Miami improved to 12-0 with the win in front a crowd of 8,023.

Despite committing 13 first half turnovers, LSU was able to rally from a 13-point deficit and draw within eight points of Miami at halftime. Torris Bright committed six of the giveaways in the opening 20 minutes and finished the game with nine. As a team, the Tigers turned the ball over 21 times against just nine assists.

"My thoughts on the game were the same that they were at halftime," said LSU coach John Brady. "Anytime you turn the ball over 13 times in the first half - and really unforced turnovers, ridiculous turnovers if you will – and you give up 57 percent shooting in the first half, it's a wonder you're not out of the game. To be down only eight (at half) means you must have done something positive…"

LSU closed in on Miami early in the second half with a 12-4 run in the opening four minutes. Ronald Dupree, LSU's leading scorer with 18 points, tied the game, 46-46, with a slam-dunk basket in transition following his steal on the other end.

But the Hurricanes never allowed LSU to retake the lead it last held at the 13:33 mark of the first half and moved ahead by seven, 59-52, on a James Jones free throw. LSU then tied the game with a 7-0 run capped with an Antonio Hudson free throw.

Hudson was on the line for Jermaine Williams, who was fouled hard while trying to make a lay-up in transition. Brady thought an intentional foul should have been called on Miami's Elton Tyler and LSU players had to physically restrain Brady when his discussion with referee Mike Kitts grew heated.

Williams was able to return to the game after coming down hard on the court and totaled 13 points on the night. Bright had an 11-point effort, and Temple suffered through one of his worst nights as a Tiger with 2-for-13 shooting for 5 points. He and Williams each committed four turnovers.

LSU enjoyed a 38-25 rebounding edge over a much bigger Miami team but couldn't convert that aspect of the game into points. The Hurricanes recorded 16 steals and eight blocked shots to go with 49 percent shooting (25-51) for the game. The Tigers shot 42.1 percent (24-57), including 4-of-18 on 3-pointers.

The Tigers return to action Sunday, Dec. 30, against Nicholls State in a game scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Maravich Assembly Center.

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