With the final seconds ticking away on the Tigers’ season, Bo Spencer and Tasmin Mitchell stood together at the top of key. With Mitchell moving side to side setting screens on the Georgia defender that guarded Spencer, LSU was one bucket away from taking just their second conference win on the season.
Of course, with a 1-14 SEC record headed into the afternoon, thoughts of postseason play outside of the conference tournament was at the back of Tiger fans minds.
Instead, Saturday’s final game represented the going away party for Mitchell. After five seasons that saw the Denham Springs, La. native experience the highest highs and lowest lows that college basketball has to offer, Mitchell’s days at LSU are over.
So with the game tied 48-48 with less than 30 seconds to play, all eyes were on Mitchell – the man everyone in the building expected to take the final shot.
Yet, it was Spencer who pulled up and knocked down the jumpper that put LSU ahead for good at 50-48.
“I just wanted to come out with a victory,” said Mitchell after the win. “Thank God and Bo Spencer.”
Spencer, who sat next to Mitchell at the post-game press conference wearing a grin that you don’t often see from 11-19 teams, said that the shot would go down as one of the most memorable in his career.
“I just wanted to give [Mitchell] a victory on the way out,” Spencer said. “To see it come true was great. It was a relief, and I was happy.”
With 19 seconds to play and down by two points, Georgia had the game’s final possession. When Jeremy Price’s shot attempt bounced out, the PMAC sent out a Tiger roar that fans haven’t shown off much over the past two months.
“I was blocking out anyone I could, maybe even my own man,” said Mitchell of the final shot of the game.
In the timeout called eight seconds prior to the miss, LSU head coach Trent Johnson said that his message to the team was as clear as day: don’t let history repeat itself.
In the exact same situation against Mississippi State just two weeks ago, the Bulldogs’ Phil Turner sank a 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds left to down LSU on their home court.
“I told them, let’s not make the same mistake we made against Mississippi State,” Johnson said. “Trust your teammates. Being up two, the best thing we could do was put pressure. In the timeouts, we said this is what they are looking to do and let’s see if we can make some adjustments.”
Mitchell finished the night with 20 points on 7-of-21 shooting. Spencer, the only other Tiger in double-digit scoring, recorded 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting.
Alex Farrer, the only senior on the squad outside of Mitchell, played his first minutes of the entire season. Injured in a preseason scrimmage against Houston, Farrer’s final game with the Tigers saw him play the opening four minutes of the contest.
“It was really great to see him out there,” Mitchell said. “He has overcome some adversity this year, and it was good to see him out there getting his motor running a little bit.”
When Farrer left the game at the 16:26 mark, the Tigers were tied at 2-2. Their first field goal, a three-point basket by Mitchell the cut the Georgia lead to 9-5, did not come until the 12:10 mark.
“It was a combination of Georgia’s defense and bad offense,” said Johnson of the Tigers’ struggles to open the game. “This has been the same old adage for us all year long. When you shoot it, you have to make it.”
A seven-point margin, which the visitors held at two points in the first half, was the largest lead that the Bulldogs opened up. By halftime, the score was back even at 20-20.
Within the first three minutes of the second half, Georgia moved the lead up to six two different times. Each time, the Tigers used a three-point bucket to cut the deficit in half. Midway through the final 20 minutes, the score was locked up at 35-35. From then out LSU buckled down, seeing Georgia’s biggest lead reach only one point.
After Mitchell’s two-point jumper put LSU ahead 48-46 with 2:18 to play, the Bulldogs would score just once more in the game – a two-point bucket by Leslie Travis that tied the game at 48-48 with 1:20 left.
“We still have a lot of losses, but we want to keep this thing going into the SEC Tournament,” Mitchell said. “Georgia did it two or three years ago. They had a record like us and went on to win the tournament.”