Tigers blow late lead, edge McNeese 82-79

The LSU men's basketball team hung on for dear life in the final seconds after losing a 22-point lead in the second half to defeat McNeese State, 82-79, Monday night at the Pete Maravich Center.

The Tigers are 5-1 with the win going into a Saturday 2 p.m. game with Southern Mississippi at the Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.

LSU opened up a 65-45 lead with 10:12 to go in the game after holding McNeese scoreless over the final 3:38 of the first half and the first 5:13 of the second half as LSU moved from down 35-34 to up 41-35 at the half and to a 61-41 advantage in the second half.

But in the final 10 minutes, the Cowboys kept throwing in long three-pointers and chopped the lead to 11 with 3:37 to play. LSU failed to score a field goal in the last 4:27 of the contest and McNeese kept charging as the Tigers' usually reliable free throw shooting let them down and allowed the Cowboys to keep charging forward.

Up 80-69, Bryce May dunked for McNeese and J. T. Williams hit a layup to cut the game to 80-73. Williams was then fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three shots, cutting the game to 80-76 with 1:36 to play. LSU fouled the next time down the floor giving McNeese two more chances at the line, but Ronald Dorsey missed both.

Tack Minor made one free throw with 1:17 left to make it 81-76 with 1:17 left, but another LSU foul sent May to the line and he missed both attempts. Brandon Bass would make one of two shot with 36 seconds and then Williams hit a three to make it 82-79 with 18 seconds to play.

Darrell Mitchell missed two free throws and McNeese had a chance to come down and take two three-point attempts that failed to go in, saving the Tigers the victory.

In the process, LSU kept alive two long win streaks now at 52 straight wins over Louisiana schools which ironically started on Dec. 8, 1988 in a two-point win over McNeese State and LSU is now 48-0 in the John Brady era when scoring more than 80 points in a game.

"I'll be honest with you, the last 10 minutes of that game, we invented way to try to give it away," said LSU Coach John Brady. "It was absolutely a comedy of errors by our team. We hit a 22-point lead and played pretty good for a stretch and separated the score, but the last 10 minutes we invented ways to try to led McNeese beat us. We just didn't play smart. We didn't play very intelligently down the stretch. I told the team in the locker room we took a step backwards in the last 10 minutes of that game. Until we get better defensively and make people miss shots, and then be determined to go rebound it, it's going to be hard to beat teams of quality."

Bass led LSU with a strong 27 point game, making 10-of-13 field goal attempts. Glen Davis had 15 points and Antonio Hudson added 13. The big story for McNeese for the second straight year against the Tigers was Edward Garriet. After scoring 24 points and hitting eight three-pointers last year against LSU, Garriet came in and scored 31 points (the second player to score 30-plus against LSU) this time with seven treys, just missing the eighth as time expired.

LSU scored 50 of its points in the paint, shooting 50.8 percent for the game. The Tigers were out rebounded by McNeese, 42-33, and had 20 assists and 10 turnovers.

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