Ole Miss exploits LSU weakness

LSU coach John Brady has often conceded the inside game is the weakness of his team, and Ole Miss made no bones about exploiting it Wednesday night. The Rebels took their attack against the Tigers down low and came away with a 70-55 win at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Miss.

Ole Miss put LSU on the free throw line repeatedly in the first half, but the Tigers failed to capitalize on their chances. LSU trailed 30-21 at the half after 0-for-7 foul shooting, and Ole Miss scored the first five points of the second half to build a lead that wouldn't dip below double digits the rest of the game.

LSU dropped to 12-6 on the season, 2-3 in Southeastern Conference games, while Ole Miss improved to 15-4, 4-2 SEC. The Tigers are back on the road for their next game, a contest set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Mississippi State.

The 55 points marked a season low for LSU. Ronald Dupree led the Tigers with 14 points and Brad Bridgewater scored 10. But with Bridgewater limited to 25 minutes because of foul trouble, LSU was doomed against the Ole Miss inside game. Justin Reed scored the majority of his game-high 18 points near the basket, and Aaron Harper kept the Tigers honest on the outside with 16 points on 3-for-7 shooting on three-pointers. David Sanders was also effective on the inside, finishing with 11 points.

"We tried to double the post since we knew we couldn't stop them one-on-one down there," said LSU coach John Brady. "We know that's not one of our strengths, and Ole Miss did a good job attacking our weakness."

With Antonio Hudson starting in the place of the injured Collis Temple III, the Tigers took a 7-4 lead on a Hudson lay-in at the 14:42 mark. LSU went scoreless for the next five minutes and allowed Ole Miss to go ahead 10-7.

Torris Bright tied the score with a three-pointer with 9:32 to go in the half, and Hudson connected from behind the arc on the next possession for a 13-10 LSU lead. But after a Sanders lay-up cut the Tigers' lead to a point, Kenderick Fox hit his only shot of the night, a three-pointer, to erase the last lead LSU would hold in the game.

Reed converted an Aaron Harper steal into a lay-up to break a 15-15 tie at 5:22, and the Rebels never surrendered the lead again.

After allowing Ole Miss to go ahead by seven in the first half, LSU trimmed the advantage down to four points, 25-21, with Jermaine Williams' short shot off the glass with 55 seconds remaining. Emmanuel Wade answered for Ole Miss with a put-back basket with 28 seconds to go.

Williams drove the lane for LSU on its next trip down the court but missed the mark on a one-handed shot. Jason Harrison grabbed the defensive rebound and went down court for a long-range three-pointer at the buzzer.

"I thought we played well in the first half," said Brady. "Jermaine kind of rushed his shot, but it wasn't really a bad shot. They hit a three at the buzzer to go ahead 30-21. If they don't hit that and we make 50 percent of our free throws, we have the lead."

The five-point spurt to start the second half built the Rebels' lead to 14. Dupree provided LSU's first points of the period at 18:33 with a lay-up on a fast break feed from Bridgewater. Reed committed a foul on the breakaway, and Dupree completed the three-point play with the Tigers' first free throw of the night. It made the score 35-24.

Dupree brought LSU to within 11 points with 11:42 to play with a three-pointer that made the score 48-37. But Ole Miss went on a 7-0 run over the next two minutes to keep the Tigers at bay.

The biggest lead in the game for Ole Miss was 22 points, 66-44, coming on a Reed lay-up with 6:51 to play in the game.

LSU held a 32-31 rebounding edge over Ole Miss with four players grabbing five rebounds a piece for the Tigers. Harper was the top Rebel rebounder with seven.

On the night, LSU was 21-of-47 (44.7 percent) from the field compared to 27-of-55 (49.1) for Ole Miss. The Rebels hit 5-of-15 three-pointers while LSU was 5-of-10. The Tigers finished 8-of-18 on free throws against 11-of-14 shooting at the stripe for the Rebels. The edge in assists-to-turnovers also went to Ole Miss (18:13-10:18).

Rounding out the scoring for LSU, Bright and Hudson scored eight points, and Williams added six. Jason Wilson led bench players with four points. Xavier Whipple posted three, and Thomas Davis scored two. JueMichael Young failed to score in ten minutes of action, and Charlie Thompson didn't take a shot in six minutes.


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