Cardiac Cats once more

With their backs against the wall in one of the Southeastern Conference's toughest venues, Trent Johnson's Tiger squad clawed their way to a 72-69 win in the final minutes at Arkansas.

Marcus Thornton led the charge with 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting, as well as a key defensive stop in the closing minute, to help No. 23 LSU complete the rally past the Razorbacks. The Baton Rouge native went all 40 minutes for the Tigers, totaling six rebounds, seven steals, two assists and one block on the evening.

 

The Tigers (22-4, 10-1) trailed the entire way in the first half; unable to net a field goal until the 15:14 mark and seeing their largest deficit grow to 18 points. Though not until the final minutes of the second half, the Cardiac Cats found their stride and put together an 11-1 run to win their seventh straight game.

 

Tasmin Mitchell remained a hot hand with a double-double outing, scoring 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting and pulling down 13 rebounds.

 

Chris Johnson was the only other Tiger to reach double digits on the scorecard, recording 12 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.

 

Arkansas (13-11, 1-10) was led on the night by Courtney Fortson and Rotnei Clarke, both recording 17 points in the losing effort.

 

Fortson, who was returning to the Razorback lineup after serving a one game suspension, hauled down seven rebounds and dished out four assists.

 

Clarke, who saw 29 minutes of action, hit on 4-of-6 shooting from behind the three point line.

 

Michael Washington was held in check in the middle, hitting on just 4-of-12 shooting for 10 points. The McGehee, Ark.-native led the Razorbacks on the boards with 8 rebounds on the night.

 

Jason Henry also scored ten points on 5-of-10 shooting in 27 minutes of action off the bench.

 

The Tigers shot 43.8 percent (28-of-64) from the floor, 25 percent (4-of-16) from three point range and 50 percent (12-of-24) from the foul line.

 

The Razorbacks, on the other hand, hit on 41.7 percent (25-of-60) from the floor, 33.3 percent (6-of-18) from three point range and 68.4 percent (13-of-19) from the charity stripe.

 

The win marked the Tigers fifth road victory in a row, a mark that Johnson points to as a measuring stick for where his team has come since the season's start.

 

"Just to get a win on the road in this conference is big," Johnson said. "The guys are really excited right now, so I am happy for them."

 

Bo Spencer missed his second game in a row due to a nagging ankle injury, and although Terry Martin scored only three points in 15 minutes of action Johnson was pleased with his performance, along with true freshman point guard Chris Bass.

 

"We are starting to get contributions from other guys, and that's a good thing," Johnson said. "Terry Martin was tremendous. I decided to start Chris Bass in the second half and Terry sat there. Then he went back out there and got on Clarke and he got a big basket. We are just continuing to get better each time out."

 

The night was busy across the conference, seeing both Tennessee and South Carolina fall to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, respectively.

 

While the win gives the Tigers a three game lead on the rest of the pack with just five games to play, Johnson is not ready to call off the troops just yet.

 

"Well, I have said this since the beginning, and that is I am not worried about anyone but LSU," he said. "We are out there competing, and I like where we are at."

 

The Tigers will face Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

 

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