Kitty Litter

West Virginia has lived by its 3-pointer for the last four seasons. Now it's dying by its lack of inside defense.

Though Darrel Mitchell's three-pointer with five seconds left lifted LSU to a 71-68 overtime win over No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday, it was Glenn Davis' inside game that left WVU reeling from its third consecutive non-conference loss – the first time that has happened in 25 years.

Mitchell, who scored a game-high 26 points, let the shot clock run down before lofting an arcing 3-pointer from the corner that went in with 5.3 seconds left. LSU then fouled J.D. Collins, whose missed the free throw was tipped out to Pat Beilein. His 3-pointer hit off the backboard and rim as time expired.

"It's been a long time since we lost three in a row," WVU fourth-year head coach John Beilein said. "It's hard to bounce back, but it's my job to get these guys to do that."

Consider Beilein working overtime. Mitchell and 310-pound forward Glenn Davis sliced through WVU's 1-3-1 defense and hit more than 50 percent of their shots from the field. Davis had 23 points – six in overtime – and 14 rebounds for LSU. It had a 51-29 rebounding edge overall.

"We broke down the pros and cons of West Virginia, and that's one of their weaknesses," Davis said. "They were not a good rebounding team. We took advantage."

Davis' eight defensive rebounds were one more than any WVU player's total. He easily controlled the inside game for his 13th career double-double and gave LSU a 26-12 advantage in points in the paint.

No other player finished in double figures for the Tigers, who committed 22 turnovers.

LSU (3-0) led the entire game until Joe Herber's 3-pointer with 4:56 remaining put WVU (2-3) ahead 57-56. The teams played to a 62-62 regulation tie before LSU outscored WVU 9-6 in overtime.

It was the Mountaineers' third consecutive loss after being ranked in the top 25 to start the season for the first time in school history. They was led by Mike Gansey's 25 points. He hit seven of 11 3-pointers, career-highs in both categories. Beilein added 15 points.

LSU led 37-27 at the break before West Virginia made seven 3-pointers in a 10-minute second-half span. The last was Herber's, which gave WVU one of its two leads. LSU, though, quickly grabbed the lead early with its inside play and did not trail in the extra session.

"They were so much more athletic than us that we had to shoot the three," Beilein said.

Mitchell's putback with 2:15 remaining in the first half gave LSU its largest lead at 37-22 with 2:15 remaining in the first half. It already had an 11-0 run with 7:33 left that put it ahead 34-21.

It was a measure of revenge for LSU. West Virginia was the only team to beat it on its home floor last year. The Mountaineers also stopped LSU's school-record 26-game non-conference home winning streak.

This time the more-cagey Tigers not only overcame WVU's first November sellout in the 35-year history of the 14,000-seat Coliseum, but also the retirement of NBA legend Jerry West's jersey. West, the model for the NBA logo, led the Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA finals. He gave WVU a pep talk before the game, then apologized to fans when the Mountaineers trailed 37-27 at the break.

"I'm sorry to West Virginia for being a distraction," West said. "Hopefully they can kick some you-know-what in the second half."

That didn't happen, either, as WVU lost second straight overtime game. The other was versus Louisville in the NCAA Tournament last year – ironically the farthest WVU had advanced since West took it to its only final appearance in 1959.

West, nicknamed Mr. Clutch, was named one of the NBA's top 50 all-time players and won an Olympic gold medal. He still holds 19 WVU records, including scoring per game, per season and total all-time scoring (2,309) and rebounds (1,240). Since West, no WVU player has come within 450 points and 170 rebounds of the marks. He was a unanimous All-American in 1959 and ?60 and was inducted into the pro basketball Hall of Fame in 1979.

He will also have a statue erected in front of the Coliseum's entrance. The monies came courtesy of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, the team of which West is now general manager.


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