Weary Tigers outmatched on both ends

LSU head coach John Brady's demeanor at Saturday's postgame press conference Saturday mirrored the Tiger basketball squad's play on the floor against Mississippi State – exhausted and weary. <br><br> Brady, wiping the sweat from his brow after three games in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in three consecutive days, even told one reporter, "Hey, you got me on that question. I hadn't slept in two days."

A response rarely heard from the mouth of the LSU coach. 


The spring in the Tigers and Brady's step Friday in the upset win over No. 7 Florida was one step too many as the Bulldogs visibly possessed the extra burst in their 76-61 win in the Louisiana Superdome.


"Today they were just a half step ahead and more physical," Brady said. "If we were at our best, who knows what would have happened … When we played Mississippi State at home, we almost played the perfect game. Today it wasn't about what we didn't do as much as how well Mississippi State played."


Friday's leading scorers Ronald Dupree and Jaime Lloreda exemplified the wear and tear on the bodies of the battle-tested Tigers.


Dupree, who scored a game-high 25 points to spoil Florida's hopes at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, shot only 4-of-12 from the field scoring nine points and five rebounds. This was the first time in 30 games that Dupree was held to single digits in scoring.


Brady said because of the way Dupree performed in the first two games in New Orleans, he tried to put the team on his shoulders more than he normally would.


"He tried to do too much too quick and he didn't let the game come to him," Brady said. "He wanted it a little too much. Yesterday against Florida he wasn't expecting to score those kind of points. Low and behold it happened because he wasn't conscience of it. Today he became more conscience of scoring and we'll talk through that and watch it. Maybe next time we'll have a better approach to it."


Lloreda attempted 13 of his 14 shots from inside the paint and converted only five times ending the contest with 11 points.


Brady said the State players were more active on the boards and defending Lloreda in the paint.


"When (Lloreda) shot, he pump faked and he would shot it and I saw three white jerseys two or three feet over the rim," Brady said.


To add to the struggles of defending a larger Bulldogs squad, Lloreda picked up his third personal foul with 5:51 left in the first half and didn't start in the second half.


State's players and staff knew the numbers that both Dupree and Lloreda chalked up against Florida. The Bulldogs keyed in on shutting down the Tigers' leading scorers, especially in the second half.


"We knew what we had to do defensively to get the win," said MSU forward Mario Austin, who scored 15 points for the Bulldogs. "We just had to try to knock down the shots and contain the other team. We really turned up the defense and rebounding, especially in the second half."


The Bulldogs put a lid on the basket defensively, holding the Tigers to 37 percent from the field in the second half on 10-of-27 shooting from the floor.


"The only thing that was going to affect the final 20 minutes was which team would be able to find the most toughness to defend and rebound," said Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. "There is no question that we came out and set the tone defensively and in the end that will set the offense. I just think, as the game went on, we just got stronger."


Brady said he wouldn't call his team tired but the size and strength of Mississippi State was too much to fathom, at least for Saturday.


"That's a physical team out there," Brady said. "Whether we were fatigued or not. I don't know but maybe their physicalness maybe had something to do with us not being as aggressive as we were yesterday. I thought we flew around the court yesterday with some nice crispness but we didn't have that today. But I think a lot of that had to do with the physicalness and the ability of their players. Man, that team's athletic. Wow."


Even the LSU players noticed the difference in their energy level from one day to the next.


"You have to give credit to Mississippi State," said LSU guard Collis Temple III, who scored 11 points in 26 minutes of action. "They had the intensity from the start, similar to Florida yesterday. This time we weren't able to counter because Mississippi State was more physical throughout. They kept it on us for 40 minutes."<

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