"It was a good win for us," LSU head coach John Brady said, "particularly at home in front of a good crowd. It was an outstanding night for us in a lot of ways."
The win is the Tigers (11-2, 1-1 SEC) second win this season over a top 10 team. LSU knocked off No. 1 Arizona 66-65 on Dec. 21.
Shooting a remarkable 62.7-percent as a team from the field, four LSU players finished in double figures with Jaime Lloreda leading the way with 19 points as the Tigers rolled to the 13-point upset.
"Since we have been here, as a staff, we have had some nice wins," Brady said. "But I have never been more proud of a team than the way they executed tonight."
"Before the game, we were told he could play and he wouldn't do any damage if he played," Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury said. "That was key. If it would do damage, we wouldn't have played him. We played him, and there was no question he was not very effective defending or rebounding the basketball."
Austin may not have been a force on the boards, but he did tie the Bulldogs' Timmy Bowers as MSU's leading scorer with 17 points.
"We knew he would get in the game quick," Brady said. "I don't know anything about what was wrong with him, they said it was his knee. I think LSU had something to do with what was wrong with him."
The Bulldogs' (10-3, 0-2 SEC) took a 3-0 advantage when Michal Ignerski opened the scoring with a three-point bucket.
The lead changed hands three times in the first 6:10. But a three-point basket by Collis Temple III gave the Tigers a 3-12 lead. LSU never trailed again.
"We extended the lead a couple of times, but we just couldn't really knock them out," Dupree said. "They would come up with a steal or an easy basket. They kept hanging around, but we dominated them the whole game."
LSU held its first double-digit lead when Jaime Lloreda banged in a layup giving the Tigers a 24014 advantage at the 6:42 mark. An Antonio Hudson free throw upped the LSU lead to 11 just seconds later. Before he could shoot the back end of the 1-and-1, Lloreda was tagged with a technical foul.
"I don't what that was all about," Brady said. "Jaime is not they type of player to instigate things like that."
Lloreda took the call in stride, and with boos ringing through the rafters of the PMAC, the 6-9 Panamanian turned it up a notch.
"He did seem to play better after that," Brady said.
Lloreda, who missed Wednesday's 80-51 win over Houston with a knee injury, added nine rebounds to his game-high 19-point total. He also blocked two shots.
"I don't know if he ever showed the effects of being injured," Brady said. "But if he's injured, I can't wait till he gets well.
"Jaime's junior college coach, coach Jeff Kidder, always said he plays big in big games. And we have only played 13 games. He is only going to get better and better."
Stansbury took notice of how Lloreda handled his two big men, Austin and 7-footer Marcus Campbell.
"He works so hard," Stansbury said. "That is what makes him so good. He has a good feel for defenders. I think the thing that makes him special is that he works hard. Every time the ball is shot, he is going after it. He had nine boards. He just goes after it. We didn't go after the ball the way we were supposed to."
Stansbury said he was most disappointed the way LSU outrebounded the Bulldogs. Mostly due to Austin's injury, Mississippi State was outrebounded by the Tigers31-24.
"The two areas I am most disappointed with my team is the ability to defend and the ability to rebound," Stansbury said. "Those are the two areas we have been good at and tonight we weren't very good at all."
The Tigers took their largest lead of the game with 3:48 to go in the first half. Torris Bright hit a jumper from 10-feet pushing the LSU advantage to 12 points.
The Slidell senior was honored before the game with a souvenir ball honoring him as the school's all-time leader in made three-point buckets with 180. Bright broke the record during the Tigers 74-62 win over Tulane in the Sugar Bowl Classic. Bright, undoubtedly brought his A-game Saturday putting up eye-popping numbers in virtually every category.
"Tell you what, a lot of players have come through here, but I don't know if a point guard has had a game like that in a long time," Brady said. "That is definitely something to write about."
Bright scored 17 points, notched three rebounds, dished out 10 assists, had three steals and blocked a shot. From the floor, he connected on 7-of-7 shots, was 2-of-2 from beyond the three-point arch and converted his only free throw attempt to finish with a perfect shooting performance.
"I came into the game focused," Bright said. "Mississippi State is a great team, the No. 7 team in the country. We knew we had to play them as if were playing Arizona. Everybody had to be focused. We did a nice job of doing that and it was a good win for us."
With only seconds remaining in the first half, the Tigers led 39-30, but a Timmy Bowers three-pointer closed the gap to 39-33 as time expired.
With 15:44 left in the second half, LSU was cruising with a 9-point advantage. Mississippi State then made their run. Scoring seven unanswered points, including buckets by Derrick Zimmerman and Campbell as well as a trey by Ontario Harper, the Bulldogs closed the gap to just two points, trailing 54-52 with 12:06 remaining in the game.
"I thought at halftime we took care of the basketball pretty well," Stansbury said. "We were only down six points, but in the second half we made our run and got it back."
That would be as close as the Bulldogs would come.
LSU outscored Mississippi State 14-8 over the next four minutes holding a 68-60 lead with 5:50 left on the clock. A dunk by Brad Bridgewater and a huge three-pointer by Antonio Hudson gave the Tigers a 73-60 lead, their largest lead of the game. A layup by seldom-used Charlie Thompson upped the Tigers lead to 75-62. A pair of break away dunks by Ronald Dupree at the 2:31 and Darrel Mitchell just 25 seconds later secured the win and turned what was a close game into a rout.
Mitchell, who stands just 5-9, said the thought of shooting a layup never crossed his mind.
"I had told my teammates that when I got the chance to dunk I was going to do it for them and I did," Mitchell said.
"The hustle plays he makes are so key," Brady said. "There are not many guys on our team who could make that play and still keep his feet going down the floor. He's only 5-9 and he goes down and dunks the ball. He listens to coaching and goes out and is quick enough to make plays like that."
Mitchell finished the game with 12 points, as one of four LSU players in double figures.
The Tigers shot an eye-popping 69.2-percent from the floor in the second half.
"We weren't able to play in transition that much," Stansbury said. "Especially in the second half because we got no stops," Stansbury said. "They shot 70-percent, so that means only three out of 10 shots you are able to play in transition."
LSU takes their final break out of conference hosting Centenary on Wednesday. They return to SEC play hosting Ole Miss on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Brady said winning on the road in the SEC is something that continues to get tougher as the level of play in the league elevates.
"It is tough now because teams are so good, coaching is so good," Brady said. "With crowds like this, you have got to be a mature, tough-minded team to play and execute on the road."