Late rally falls short - Tigers lose again 67-64

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Despite a frantic 11-4 run with under a minute left in the game, the LSU Tigers lost their third consecutive Southeastern Conference game, this time to Mississippi State 67-64.<br><br>"It was more of what we did not do," LSU head coach John Brady said after the game.

Trailing by 10, 38-28, at the half, the second lowest half-time score of the season (LSU scored 23 against UNO in the first half), the Tigers never really seemed to cut into the Mississippi State lead.

 

Ronald Dupree scored 15 points to lead the Tigers and Michal Ignerski scored 15 to lead Mississippi State.

 

A Ronald Dupree basket to open the half cut the Bulldog lead to eight, 38-30. However, it took Mississippi State just three minutes to push the lead to 13, thanks to a 6-0 run in which Winsome Frazier scored four consecutive points.

 

"Mississippi State did a good job," Brady said.  "We gave them run outs on turnovers and second chance points because we did not rebound the ball well. We didn't guard dribble penetration."

 

Both teams traded baskets back and forth for a majority of the second half with LSU never being able to get the Bulldog lead under six points. 

 

With 7:53 left in the game, a basket by Ronald Dupree cut the MSU lead to eight, 57-49, but Mississippi State responded with another 6-0 run to push the lead to 14, their largest advantage of the game, 63-49.

 

The stifling Bulldog defense stymied LSU throughout the game, holding the Tigers to 38.7-percent shooting in the first half. LSU shot 42.7-percent in the second half. 

 

"Nothing was really going our way," Antonio Hudson said after the game. "You just half to step up and make something happen.  Mississippi State did a good job defending us."

 

Bulldog coach Rick Stansbury also credited his team's defense as one of the keys to his team's success."

 

"Our offense had been successful this season but our ability to defend and rebound with consistency has been the major key to us winning game," Stansbury said.

 

With LSU not being able to make a significant cut into the Bulldog lead, it looked as though Mississippi State was going to run the clock out. However, a basket by Jaime Lloreda with 1:36 left, LSU's first points in 3:27, reduced the Bulldog lead to 10, 63-53.  Lloreda then fouled Bulldog guard Derrick Zimmerman, who made two free throws, and again LSU trailed by 12 with 55.6 seconds left in regulation.

 

Bulldog fans headed to the exits as it appeared the Tigers were finished. LSU, however, gave them a reason to come back.  The Tigers mounted a dramatic 11-4 run in the final minute and just missed a last second shot to send the game into overtime.

 

After Zimmerman's two made free throws, Lloreda scored an easy basket to cut the lead to 10. State's junior forward Mario Austin turned the ball over after an Antonio Hudson foul and Darrel Mitchell hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to seven at 65-58.

 

The freshman Mitchell committed two consecutive fouls, the second of which sent Mario Austin to the free throw line. Austin, a 77-percent free throw shooter missed the first of a one-and-one and LSU regained possession with just under 30 seconds left.

 

LSU senior point guard Torris Bright hit a three pointer with 23.7 seconds remaining in the game, shrinking the Bulldog lead to a mere four points, 65-61. Hudson's third foul sent Winsome Frazier to the free throw line.

Like Austin before him, Frazier missed the front end of another one-and-one. The Tigers drove the ball the length of the court and Ronald Dupree hit an amazing one-handed, three-point shot over MSU guard Derrick Zimmerman cutting the Bulldog lead a single point, 65-64.

 

"I was trying to draw contact," Dupree said after the game. "I think I did but the referee did not see it that way."

 

With the lead reduced to one at 65-64, Bright's third foul sent Zimmerman to the charity stripe.  The Monroe, La. native made both free throws, giving the Bulldogs a 67-64 lead with 9.5 seconds remaining.

 

After a time-out, Bright drove the ball the length of the court and heaved a three-point attempt toward the goal. Austin, whose 6-9 290-pound frame blocked Bright's view, was able to affect the flight of the ball and it harmlessly bounced off the backboard.

 

"The last play was for Ronald (Dupree) to set a high ball screen which he did," Brady said. "We had two players in both corners, Hudson and Mitchell. I wanted Torris (Bright) to come off the high ball screen and throw it to the opposite corner.  For him to shoot it, I just don't know.  But that is not what lost it.  It wasn't quite the play we wanted."

 

Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury said his team's inability to hit critical free throws led to the game being so close at the end.

 

"They (LSU) made three unbelievable shots.  Then we allow it to be close because we missed some free throws," Stansbury said. "We missed two (front ends of) one-and-ones that would have made those last two three's not matter or not mean as much.  But when they made three-pointers and you miss your free throws, you're getting the worst of both ends. You have to make free throws in close basketball games to win.  Thank goodness we had a large enough lead and were able to hang on."

 

Despite the loss, Brady credited his team after the game on the concentration on trying to achieve the victory.

 

"I'm proud of our team that they got themselves in that position (with a shot to win at the end) with under a minute left. I bet it was good for television."

 

On his team's 1-4 start in SEC play, Brady said the Tigers will continue to try and get better.

 

"We're 1-4 because of what we have done and not done," Brady said. "We're going to keep working every day and see what happens.

 

Antonio Hudson echoed Brady's sentiments after the game. 

 

"There is still hope for this team," Hudson said after the game. "We've been through this before. Last year we lost a total of six straight and we came back and won seven out of the last eleven. I'm not saying we are going to loose six straight, we've been down this road before. Of course it's not over. With the talent we have on this team and the senior leadership, we'll come back."

 

The beleaguered LSU defense gained a bit of respect against the Bulldogs as they held All-SEC center Mario Austin to eight points, tying a season low for the Bulldogs' big man. Four of Austin's eight points came from the free throw line.

 

Despite the season low in shooting, Austin was happy with the win.

 "I'm not worried about scoring," Austin said after the game. "I just want to get everybody else involved. That was my main thing, just come out and play within myself and not overdo it."


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