LSU hits potholes on the road

HOUSTON -- The LSU men's basketball took to the road for the first time this season Saturday and hit some serious potholes.<br><br>Texas A&M (2-1), a program that has had one winning season in the past 13 years, defeated the Tigers 79-77 in the 2002 Space City Hoops Classic at Reliant Stadium in Houston.<br><br>And according to LSU head coach John Brady, there were some signs along the way that provided warning for what was to come against the Aggies.

"I knew after the first two exhibitions and the first two regular season games that we were not a very good basketball team," Brady said. "I am disgusted in our play. We did not execute offensively when we needed to and we missed three one-and-ones on the table at the end of the game."


Tiger shooting guard Antonio Hudson hit a three with less than 10 seconds to cut the A&M lead to 79-77. Aggie guard Leandro Garcia-Morales threw away the inbounds to give LSU the ball back and a chance to tie the game. LSU's Torris Bright was fouled and sent to the line with :06 remaining for a one-and-one shooting opportunity, but Bright missed the front end and the Aggies rebounded to preserve the victory.


"This team has potential, whatever that means," Aggie head coach Melvin Watkins said. "A win like this, beating a recognized team from the Southeastern Conference, gives us a lot of confidence. We can savor this win, but we need go back to work and not have a letdown.


"This is a game that we couldn't have won last year. We have some better players and are putting the pieces together. We have guys that are working hard and have some kids that can shoot the ball. It's different that in the past – now we are learning what and what's not a good shot," he said.


For the last two seasons, Texas A&M opponents could double-team senior guard Bernard King from Gibsland, La. This season, the Aggies are depending on freshman forward Antoine Wright from San Bernadino, Calif., to shoulder some of the scoring load.


King and Wright scored 26 and 22 points, respectively, against LSU.


"This is a very satisfying win," King said. "I am starting to see single coverage with the help of Antoine, Kevin Turner (8 points) and Bernard King (4 points). We are getting great penetration from out guard and are hitting the open jumpers. It his great having some open looks for a change."


The Tigers trailed by 13 points in the first half as a result of poor shooting, poor perimeter defense and turnovers, and needed an 11-5 run close the gap, 45-38, by halftime.


The Aggies' first advantage was due much in part to shooting 10 for 14 from the behind the three-point line, a 71.4 percent clip.


In the second half, LSU went on a 10-0 run to even the score, 52-52, and Ronald Dupree hit a three-pointer with 12:22 to play to give LSU a 55-53 lead. While Dupree scored nine points during LSU's second half run, he shot 4-14 from the field for the game to finish with 12 points.


"Dupree missed a dink, got the rebound and missed another dink at an important point in the game," Brady said. "He's our go-to-guy. He needs to execute and play better or he won't play."


The play Brady was referring to was a shot Dupree took and missed with the Tigers leading 70-69 with 4:19 remaining. The ball ended up wedged between the backboard and rim and play was stopped to have it removed.


Senior Collis Temple III and freshman reserve Darrel Mitchell sparked LSU in the second half. Temple led the Tigers with 19 points in the game, including 11 in the second half, while Mitchell finished with 11 points on 4-5 shooting.


Mitchell hit an important three with 33.1 remaining to pull to 78-74.


Jamie Lloreda finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Tigers.


"I thought we were going to pull it out in the end," Temple said. "I missed an important one-and-one. I thought it was in.


"We have some expectations for this team. We need to play as a team – not ourselves. Coach Brady got the seniors together the other day and told us let the game come to us and not put as much pressure on ourselves. He thought we were trying too hard and try and have some fun – play as a team. We aren't doing that yet," he said.


Conspicuously missing from the lineup in the second half was Bright, who played only 19 minutes and scored 11 points. He was lifted for Charlie Thompson, who directed the Tigers' second-half run.

"We took out Bright because he wouldn't guard his man," Brady said. "At least Charlie (Thompson) and Darrel Mitchell would stay between their man and the basket. We are not getting consistent performances out of the players that we are supposed to be getting production out of. If not, we are going to be making some changes in personnel."

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