Tigers make clean sweep of Arkansas

LSU coach John Brady reasoned last week that his team might as well beat Arkansas on the road since it had posted a win over the Razorbacks on Jan. 13 at the Maravich Assembly Center. He also said the Tigers would need at least 65 points to win. Coming off of its confidence-building win over Mississippi State last Wednesday, LSU proved Brady to be prophetic with a 67-63 win Saturday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark.

Forward Ronald Dupree scored 26 of his career-high 30 points in the first half, allowing the Tigers to keep pace with Arkansas. Despite just four more points from Dupree and costly turnovers in the second half, the Tigers contained the Razorbacks' damage and got a well-rounded offensive effort to come back from a seven-point deficit and win the game in the final two minutes.

Dupree's 30-point performance was the first for an LSU player since March 2, 2001, when Collis Temple III had 30 in a loss at Tennessee.

Torris Bright's layup with 1:11 left to play gave LSU a 62-60 lead, and Jermaine Williams hit four of five free throws in the final minute to seal the win for the Tigers. Despite not having a starter and key bench player along for the trip, Brady and the Tigers were able to earn their second win in a row. 

"For us to win with out Thomas Davis and Collis Temple speaks well for what's flowing through this team," said Brady.

LSU improved to 14-11 with a 4-8 mark in the Southeastern Conference, while Arkansas fell to 12-12 overall and 4-8 in league play. Although the Tigers and Razorbacks have identical SEC records, LSU is the fourth place team in the West division by virtue of its sweep.

The victory at Fayetteville was the first SEC road win for LSU this season, and it gave the Tigers their second series sweep against Arkansas in three years. The 1999-2000 LSU squad also beat the Razorbacks twice en route to its SEC title, making Brady the only LSU coach to ever post a win at the Razorbacks' home arena.

"Going into the game, we hoped not to turn the ball over too much," said Brady. "If we did turn it over, we hoped that it would go out of bounds and not lead to easy breakaway baskets for Arkansas. Really, they didn't get many baskets on breakaways. Most of what they did came from the perimeter or on second-chance baskets."

But for every put-back opportunity the Razorbacks made, they missed two more. Arkansas finished the game shooting 36 percent (22 of 61) from the field, including 1-of-13 on three-pointers in the second half.

The only three-pointer came from Jannero Pargo with 2:36 remaining and gave Arkansas a 60-55 lead, but Brad Bridgewater answered with his only basket of the game to bring LSU with three points.

Pargo tried another three on his next trip down the court, but his missed shot went out of bounds to LSU. Bright then tied the game with a three-pointer at the 1:52 mark before giving the Tigers the lead 41 seconds later.

"When Torris Bright hit the three in front of our bench, it was from a set play," Brady explained. "From there, we were able to make the defensive stops and free throws.

"Jermaine Williams was able to ice the game with his free throws. For a senior who's been in our program for four years to be able to win it for us in the stretch is quite good."

Williams' first two free throws came with 33.9 seconds left to play after Arkansas had missed three put-back chances in a row on its end. With a four-point lead, LSU could let Arkansas shoot unchecked on its end and stall once the ball was back in its possession.

But Dupree made his only mistake of the game in fouling Brandon Dean on a three-point attempt with 23 seconds remaining. The error sent Dean to the line for three shots, which he went on to convert to make the score 64-63.

A quick foul on Williams after the LSU in-bounds pass sent him back to the line for two more shots. He made the first but missed the second, and Arkansas came away with the rebound and a chance to take the lead with 20 seconds to play.

Jannero Pargo put up a three-pointer that was off the mark, and Williams was fouled again when he came up with the ball and was heading for an uncontested basket. His final two free throws provided the final margin.   

Williams' 5-of-6 shooting from the line in the final minute of play was part of a 12-of-16 performance for LSU in the second half. The Tigers were able to create free throw opportunities for themselves by driving to the basket against Arkansas' zone defense.

The Razorbacks tried to stifle LSU with its patented full court pressure defense in the first half, but they couldn't contain Dupree, who had a number of baskets in transition and also displayed a hot hand with his fall-away jumper. Dupree provided 19 of the first 20 points LSU scored in the game and finished the first half 11-of-15 from the field and 3-for-3 on three-pointers.

Despite Dupree's fireworks, Arkansas built a ten-point lead in the first half with an 8-0 run. Matt Jones, the standout freshman quarterback from the Razorbacks' football team, put the Hogs ahead 23-13 with a free throw at the 11:13 mark.

Dupree continued at his torrid pace, scoring the next seven points for the Tigers, bringing LSU to within four. A put-back bucket from Bright with 7:07 to go in the half marked the first field goal in the game for the Tigers from someone other than Dupree. It made the score 28-26 in favor of Arkansas. Antonio Hudson had provided the only other LSU point with a free throw in the opening minute.

The Razorbacks moved back ahead by seven, but three-pointers from Thompson and Bright got the Tigers closer and Dupree sank a 28-footer at the halftime buzzer to cut Arkansas' lead to two, 39-37.

The Razorbacks added some distance between themselves and LSU at the start of the second half. Dean, who led Arkansas with 15 points, made the score 43-37 with a layup in transition one minute into the period.

Hudson, who had scored a career-high 23 points against Mississippi State earlier in the week, hit his only three-pointer of the game a minute later for LSU's first basket of the half. Hudson would eventually foul out and leave the game with eight points.

A pair of Bright free throws tied the game, 44-44, with 13:14 remaining, and LSU took its first lead of the second half when Thompson fed Bright on a 3-on-1 breakaway for a layup that made the score 48-46.

Turnovers then began to undermine the LSU effort, as Arkansas converted the Tiger miscues into points. Teddy Gipson, a 60 percent career shooter against LSU who didn't see action until the second half, posted a slam dunk off of Thompson turnover in the backcourt to make the score 54-48. Larry Satchell capped a 9-0 run for the Razorbacks with a free throw at the 7:35 mark.

But after that point, Arkansas went cold from the field and didn't hit another shot from the field until Pargo connected on his three-pointer with 2:36 to go. LSU outscored Arkansas 12-3 over the remainder of the game.

Dupree's career night also included nine rebounds, four assists and two blocked shows. Bright finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. Despite a height disadvantage, LSU out-rebounded the Razorbacks 39-35.

Joining Dean in double figures for Arkansas were Pargo (11) and J.J. Sullinger (10).

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