THE YEAR IN SPORTS: 10 to Remember/Forget

It was truly a great year for the LSU Tigers – in all sports. From the 11-win football campaign and top five finish for Les Miles' Tigers to both the men's and women's basketball teams reaching the Final Four there was plenty to cheer about over the past 12 months on the LSU campus.

The Tigers logged the most dominating bowl victory in school history while the basketball team ripped through the NCAA Tournament like a team on a mission.

 

Track and field, softball, gymnastics; every sport experienced some type of success in 2005-06.

Here are the top 10 games to remember from the last sports season at LSU.

 

 

 

Tasmin Mitchell celebrates the Tigers 62-54 upset of Duke in the Sweet16. (LSU/Franz)

 

1. LSU 62, No. 1 Duke 54 – The Sweet 16

The LSU Tiger basketball team finally received the publicity they deserved when they knocked off No. 1 seeded Duke. The Tiger defense smothered the Blue Devils, stifling J.J. Redick and sent top-seeded Duke to yet another loss in the round of 16. Glen Davis supplied the offense, scoring 14 points despite foul trouble while freshman Tyrus Thomas supplied the defense, swatting away five shots. Garrett Temple shut down Redick to lead No. 4 seed LSU to a 62-54 upset in the Atlanta Regional. With the win, "Big Baby" and Thomas became household names, projecting Thomas to the first round of the NBA Draft.

 

Les Miles and Melvin Oliver received the Peach Bowl trophy after thrashing Miami 40-3. (LSU/Franz)

2. LSU 40, Miami 3 – The Peach Bowl

 

This game was huge. Les Miles and his Tigers destroyed the Miami Hurricanes in all aspects of the game, capping off the best first year record for a football coach at LSU at 11-2. Not only did the win embarrass Miami on the field and in the locker room after, but it landed the Tigers at No. 5 in the nation for the final polls of the season. In the offseason, the LSU win also paid dividends on the recruiting circuit where Miles landed several out of state recruits, comprising another top 10 recruiting class.

 

 

 

Seimone Augustus and the Lady Tigers won for the first time ever in Knoxville. (UTK/EOlivier)

 

3. Lady Tigers 72, Tennessee 69 – First-ever win in Knoxville

 

Seimone Augustus found Sylvia Fowles for a layup with 20 seconds to play and then blocked two three-point shots on consecutive possessions to break Tennessee's 64-game conference winning streak at Thompson-Boling Arena, 72-69. In their 17th try, LSU earned the first win in the history of the women's program over Tennessee in Knoxville.

The loss to an SEC opponent in Knoxville was the first since Dec. 8, 1996, when Georgia defeated the Lady Vols, 94-93, in overtime. The win in Knoxville was a key game to winning the outright SEC regular-season championship.

 

4. LSU 16, Alabama 13 – Overtime in Tuscaloosa

Not many games like this come along often. Set in historical Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, LSU defeated the undefeated Crimson Tide with an 11-yard pass from quarterback JaMarcus Russell to wideout Dwayne Bowe to secure a 16-13 overtime victory over No. 4 Alabama. With the win, No. 5 LSU moved to the top of the SEC's Western Division, placing them in the driver's seat heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. Alabama, which fell to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in conference play, saw a perfect season fall apart as they lost the following week at rival Auburn.

LSU's Glen Davis outplayed Texas big man LaMarcus Aldridge on the way to the Final Four. (LSU/Franz)

5. LSU 70, Texas 60 – Final Four Bound

On the 20th anniversary of the team's last Final Four team, the fourth-seeded LSU men's basketball team advanced to the school's fourth national semifinal by virtue of a 70-60 overtime victory over No. 2-seeded Texas. The win catapulted the Tigers into the Final Four, placing LSU as the fan favorite against No. 2-seeded UCLA. Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas dominated in their performances, with Davis finishing with 26 points and nine rebounds, while Thomas twice overcame leg craps to score 21 points and grab 13 rebounds. Thomas was named the regional Most Outstanding Player.

 

 

 

Early Doucet cradles the game-winning TD pass at Arizona State. (LSU/Franz)

 

6. LSU 35, Arizona State 31 – The Katrina Comeback

In what is called one of the most emotional wins ever in LSU football, the No. 5 ranked Tigers defeated No. 15 Arizona State in Tempe in comeback fashion. LSU wide receiver Early Doucet jumped past two Arizona State defenders and came down with a 39-yard touchdown reception from JaMarcus Russell with 1:13 to play, giving the Tigers an improbable 35-31 "home" victory. LSU forced a blocked punt and a blocked field goal in the second half of their season opener that turned into a back-and-forth affair. Both teams amassed 994 yards of total offense (434 for LSU, 560 for ASU), 17 penalties for 131 yards, and only three second-half punts with 42 points scored in the fourth quarter.

7. UConn 67, LSU 66 – Tigers come of age

Unranked LSU busted out onto the college basketball scene in Hartford when the Tigers took the Connecticut Huskies to the limit with a 67-66 loss. The Tigers put up the fight of their lives on the home court of the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, and came away with the confidence to play against the best. Even though the Tigers loss, the contest helped prepare LSU for a series of tough battles and an outright SEC regular season title. Many had doubts about LSU, saying the squad was too young. Now John Brady's team showed they could play with the big boys on national television.

8. Lady Tigers 88, Baylor 57 – LSU knocks off defending champion

The Lady Tigers destroyed the defending national champion Baylor Bears 88-57 at the PMAC, but it was the post game antics that made headlines the following morning. Baylor Head Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson made numerous negative comments during post game interviews, accusing LSU Head Coach Pokey Chatman of indecent conduct following the contest. The skirmish made national headlines, and until the NCAA Tournament was the biggest story of the season. LSU shot 50 percent from the floor in the game, including 51.4 percent in the first half. The Lady Tigers also grabbed 50 rebounds to Baylor's 35. Baylor, the defending national champions, was held to 35.3 percent from the floor.

9. LSU 3, Arizona 2 – Softball topples No. 1 Cats

For the first time in school history, the LSU softball team knocked of the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, defeating Arizona, 3-2, in game two of the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional. However, the Lady Tigers could not make it two in a row as the Wildcats won the series in game three, 14-5, and earned a bid to the Women's College World Series. The Wildcats took game one, 5-0. With the Lady Tiger victory, LSU became just the second team to knock off Arizona at home this season, joining UCLA as the only two teams to defeat the Wildcats in Tucson.

10. LSU 3, Notre Dame 2 – Volleyball shocks No, 8 Irish

The LSU volleyball team knocked off a top 10-ranked opponent for the first time since 1992, defeating No. 8 Notre Dame, 30-28, 30-22, 23-30, 26-30, 20-18, at the Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic championship. The win marked the first victory for LSU over a nationally ranked team since a 3-0 win over No. 18 Texas Tech on Dec. 5, 1992. The win was also the first over a top 10-ranked team since a 3-0 win over No. 9 New Mexico on Sept. 13, 1992, and was the first win over a nationally ranked team in the Fran Flory era.

******

Now 10 games Tigers fans would probably like to forget.

While there was plenty to cheer about in 2005-06, there were also those moments Tiger fans would like to forget.

 

Worse than a loss to UAB, Houston or even Miami of Ohio, the Tigers collapse versus Tennessee in the 2005 home opener will stick in the craw of Tiger fans forever. The sting of that painful defeat will go down as one of the lowest points in the program's history.

 

And yes, as both basketball teams made it to the Final Four, they both watched as memorable seasons came to unceremonious endings.

 

 

Rick Clausen returned to Tiger Stadium and rallied the Vols past his former team. (LSU/Franz)

 

1. Tennessee 30, LSU 27 – The Overtime Meltdown

Never again will there be a Monday night football game in Tiger Stadium after the meltdown LSU managed in the second half against Tennessee. LSU fans were forced to wait nearly a month to watch their team play at home because of two catastrophic hurricanes, and hoped for better at the first Monday night football game in LSU history. The contest was capped off by an overtime comeback win that saw Tennessee, who had been outscored by LSU 21-0 in the first half, outscore the Tigers 23-3 after halftime to claim a 30-27 victory in front of 91,986 stunned fans.

The Tigers saw their national title hopes dashed by UCLA in the Final Four. (LSU/Franz)

2. UCLA 59, LSU 45 – The run ends

The LSU basketball team hit a brick wall in the Final Four against UCLA, who smothered the Tiger offense the entire evening and ended LSU's big dance. LSU shot 16-for-50, 32 percent, and didn't make a 3-pointer the entire contest. LSU scored only 45 points, which was the second-lowest total in the Final Four since the NCAA adopted the shot clock in 1986. The game marked the end of a short era in LSU basketball where "Big Baby" and Tyrus Thomas shared the same court. It was also the final game of Darrel Mitchell's collegiate career.

3. Duke 54, LSU 45 – Augustus era ends ugly

The spark just wasn't there. The Lady Tigers struggled throughout the NCAA Tournament, relying on clutch shooting and talent to get them through the field of 65 to the Final Four. Everyone knew LSU would have to play a great game against No. 1 seeded Duke to advance to the national championship, and they didn't. Duke handled the Lady Tigers, 64-54, ending their championship run and two time Nation Player of the Year Seimone Augusts' career. The contest not only ended LSU's season, but was the end of an era at LSU where Augustus reined queen of women's collegiate basketball.

Dwayne Bowe gets stuck in LSU's 34-14 loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. (LSU/Franz)

4. Georgia 34, LSU 14 – Atlanta proves unkind

 

The Tigers ran out of gas in Atlanta for the SEC Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Miles' squad played 10 consecutive games in 2005 without a by-week because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and it showed when Georgia thwarted the Tigers 34-14. JaMarcus Russell left the game for good after a late-third quarter sack that resulted in a shoulder injury, which later kept the junior quarterback out of spring drills. The loss killed any chance the Tigers had for a BCS bowl game, while also raising fans doubts with Miles and his coaching abilities.

 

5. Ohio State 78, LSU 76 – Collapse in Columbus

John Brady's Tiger basketball team went through growing pains at the beginning of their Final Four season this past year when they couldn't close out a game. Ohio State trailed by 15 points with just over 5 1/2 minutes left and was down by 10 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining before making every big shot imaginable, scoring the final 12 points down the stretch. Glen Davis hit a basket off a backdoor lob pass with 3:23 left that gave the Tigers a 76-66 lead, but that was the final points for an LSU team that had three freshmen in the starting lineup and six among its top nine players.

6. Tennessee 63, Lady Tigers 62 – SEC Tourney upset – again!

The Lady Volunteers had not been their normal dominate selves the entire season, but they would always rise to the occasion when playing the Lady Tigers. LSU took the regular season contest 72-69, but for the second year in a row, Tennessee outshined No. 1 seed LSU in the conference tournament championship. LSU led 62-58 with less than a minute remaining, but Shanna Zolman's 3-pointer with 35.5 seconds to play cut Tennessee's deficit to one. Erica White missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 33 seconds left that would have put the Lady Tigers back in it, instead the Lady Vols secured their victory, 63-62.

Poor play in 2006 cost baseball coach Smoke Laval his job. (LSU/Franz)

7. Baseball's five 10-plus run losses in SEC play

 

Former baseball head coach Smoke Laval and his Tigers struggled throughout the 2006 season. LSU had big wins in conference play, but more importantly, they had some big losses. Five times in conference play LSU was beat by 10-plus runs, a stat the Tiger faithful would rather forget. Perhaps what hurt the most was that all five contest were played in the friendly confines of Alex Box Stadium, including-Mississippi State1-11, South Carolina 2-12 and 4-18, Alabama 6-17 and Vanderbilt 4-19. Poor play at home like these games eventually led to the demise of coach Laval, not including another 10-plus run loss to Ole Miss, 1-12, at the SEC Tournament.

 

8. Houston 84, LSU 83 – Lafayette goes loco

 

It would have been a UL-L dream come true, but it wasn't. Instead, it was a Houston dream come true when Lafayette came to Baton Rouge and almost single handily defeated LSU 84-33. Oliver Lafayette, a 6-3 junior guard and Capitol High product, scored 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting including 6-of-9 from three-point range to bury the newly ranked Tigers in the Maravich Center. Lafayette made 10-of-13 shots in the second half and scored 27 points to bring the Cougars from 15 points down. The LSU offense did not suffer on the night with four players in double figures, the Tigers just couldn't stop Lafayette.

 

9. LSU 19, Arkansas 17 – Tigers escape monumental upset

 

The LSU defense saved their season again against the struggling Razorbacks of Arkansas, narrowly escaping with a 19-17 victory in Tiger Stadium. The LSU defense stopped Arkansas' last three possessions, holding them to negative 13 yards on one possession and ended the game with a Melvin Oliver sack of Casey Dick back at the 41. The fourth-and-18 pass was intercepted in the end zone. With the win, No. 3 LSU rapped up the SEC Western Division title, going undefeated in the western division and earned a spot in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. The win was also the last game in Tiger Stadium for 21 LSU seniors.

 

10. Gymnastics fails to reach Super Six – again

All season the Lady Tigers struggled on the beam, but it was miscues on the bars that proved to be the undoing for the Tiger gymnastics team as they missed advancing to the Super Six finals after finishing fifth in their preliminary round session, and eighth overall, at the NCAA Championships. After 12 tries, D-D Breaux's  team still couldn't find its way into the Super Six. Despite the costly errors, LSU did turn in great performances on the other three events, notching a 49.200 on the floor and a pair of 48.900s on the vault and beam. Individually, the upperclassmen shined as a school record-tying five Tigers earned All-American honors.


Tiger Blitz Top Stories