LSU blasts Arkansas in SEC Tourney

NEW ORLEANS – LSU picked up right where it left off on February 22 when the Tigers soundly thumped Arkansas, 75-56, in the team's last meeting in Baton Rouge.<br><br>Coach John Brady's team continued their assault on the Razorbacks, systematically dismantling Arkansas, 85-56, Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the SEC Tournament in the Louisiana Superdome.

"Well, LSU beat us right form the start," a flustered Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said.

Five of LSU's first six baskets were three pointers as the Tigers bounded out to an 11-2 lead just over three minutes into the game. LSU knocked down 10-of-21 three pointers in the game.

"They just shot the ball well," Heath said. "I was very impressed with their shooting. They certainly have improved since I have seen them."

The Tigers (20-9) advance to the quarterfinal round of the tournament to face Florida at 2:15 p.m. Friday. The Gators (24-6) received a first round bye as the SEC East's No. 2 seed.

While the 11,340 in attendance were wowed by LSU's crisp shooting, Brady complimented the play of his defense saying the Tigers stingy effort played the biggest role in the game.

"I think the ball going in the basket overshadows our defensive effort," Brady said. "We made some shots, but we played really good defense. From a defensive standpoint, what we established early in the game made the difference."

LSU outscored the Razorbacks 45-19 in the first 20 minutes of play as the Hogs (9-19) shot a miserable 8-of-30 (26-percent) from the floor.

"We did well defensively," LSU's Collis Temple III said. "We didn't rebound as well as we wanted to, but we played very good on defense."

Torris Bright opened the scoring with a trey from the corner. Rashad Sullivan answered with a layup making the score 3-2 at the 19:07 mark. The Hogs did not score again until 16:52 left in the first half. In the meantime, the damage was being done.

Temple followed up Bright's three with a trey of his own. An ally-oop dunk from point guard Xavier Whipple to Ronald Dupree began breaking the spirit of the Hogs. Another three-point bomb by Temple forced a quick timeout by Heath – things were never the same.

"LSU just got into a good rhythm early in the game," Arkansas' Carl Baker said. "We kind of dug ourselves into a hole and just couldn't get out of it."

Jonathan Modica registered a putback closing the gap to 14-7 with 14:59 left to play. That seven-point deficit was the closest the game was as LSU outscored the Hogs 31-12 the rest of the way. The Tigers were 15-of-27 (55.6-percent from the field in the first half, 8-of-15 from the arc.

"I think it has been a carry over from the last six games," Dupree said of LSU's recent sharp shooting. "We've been very unselfish in our efforts to get open shots and we're knocking the open shots down."

Bright said the entire team has had a different offensive mindset recently, most prominently over the second half of SEC play.

"The mindset of the players on our team is that when the ball leaves their hand it is going to go in," Bright said.

Temple led all Tiger scorers with 18 points, nine of which came from a trio of three-pointers. He was also 5-of-6 from the free throw line.

Despite a horrendous showing from the charity stripe, Bright put up 17 points, nailing 4-of-7 three points. He chipped in five assists but went a dismal 3-of-9 at the line.

Dupree finished with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds, all of which were defensive boards.

With the game very much in hand midway through the second half, tempers flared and a pair of altercations made for an ugly scene. The Hogs were tagged with a pair of technical fouls on Modica and Eric Ferguson. Modica and Dupree got tied up going for a loose ball, which led to a punch being throw by the Razorback guard.

After a physical exchange under the goal on the LSU end, Ferguson, frustrated by a no-call, had some words sent in Brady's direction. The Tiger coach asked Ferguson what he said, which Ferguson responded.

Referee Rick Crawford swiftly gave Ferguson the heave-ho.

"It is sad because our team has been a first class team all season," Heath said about the ugly scene. "Today's game was not a true reflection of our program and of our season."

Modica said it was unfortunate things went south late in a game that was long over.

"What happened with Dupree was just two aggressive players going for the same ball," Modica said. "I did not handle the situation well at all. I overreacted. I apologize to the team, the coaches and the fans."

In all, Arkansas was whistled for 28 personal fouls, compared to 12 by the Tigers. Four Razorbacks fouled out in the game (Sullivan, Modica, Ferguson, Larry Satchell).

Two players finished in double figures for the Hogs. Modica led the team with 18 points followed by Kendrick Davis, who put up 13.

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