BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Just days after losing its national
ranking, LSU showed its victory over Arizona was no fluke by
beating its second top-10 team this season -- and doing it
Jaime Lloreda scored 19 points and Ronald Dupree had 18 points
and 12 rebounds to lead LSU to an 85-72 victory over Mississippi State (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) on Saturday night.
The game was LSU's first since last Sunday's 89-63 loss at
Georgia, which dropped the Tigers out of the Top 25. LSU had beaten
then-No. 1 Arizona 66-65 on Dec. 21.
"Mississippi State is a great team, so we had to play them as
if we were playing Arizona,'' said Torris Bright, who scored 17
points, hit both 3-pointers he took and had 10 assists. "Everybody
had to be focused and we did a nice job.''
Bright also showed poise when Mississippi State began to trap in
their desperation to erase LSU's widening lead over the last 10
minutes. His decisive dribbling and passing allowed LSU to move the
ball up the floor quickly for several easy crowd-pleasing dunks.
"There have been a lot of players that have come through here,
but I don't know if a point guard has had a game like that here in
a long time,'' LSU coach John Brady said.
Mario Austin scored 17 points for Mississippi State (10-3, 0-2
Southeastern Conference) despite being hobbled by a sore right knee
from a collision in the Bulldogs' loss to Florida on Tuesday. But
Mississippi State could not keep pace with LSU (11-2, 1-1), which
shot almost 63 percent, including 6-for-12 from 3-point range.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said Austin wasn't at his
best, but he declined to blame that for the loss.
"He was able to play. We're not going to make excuses,''
Darrell Mitchell added 12 points for the Tigers. And he sent the
crowd into a frenzy when he dived to intercept a pass, and in one
motion seemed to push himself up, keep the dribble and go in for a
dunk that gave LSU an 81-64 lead.
The 5-foot-9 freshman said he never thought about a layup.
"I promised my teammates if I got a chance to dunk I would,''
Timmy Bowers scored 17 points for Mississippi State on 5-for-8
shooting from 3-point range, while Michal Ingerski added 14 points.
Mississippi State shot just under 47 percent, with several of
the misses coming on 3-pointers late in the game as LSU expanded
Mississippi State used a 7-0 run, capped by Marcus Campbell's
putback, to pull within 54-52 with about 12 minutes left. But LSU
was able to regroup after Dupree drew contact on a drive and hit
both free throws. Lloreda followed with a dunk after LSU had gotten
a defensive stop.
Mississippi State got within 64-59 when Austin converted a
baseline drive with 7:20 left, but LSU then went on a 17-5 run to
put the game away.
Austin, who leads Mississippi State in scoring with an average
of more than 20 points a game, did not start because of his injury.
He played 13 minutes in the first half, often grimacing as he ran
the floor, but had only four points on two inside shots.
With Austin hobbled, LSU outrebounded Mississippi State 19-7 in
the first half, including nine rebounds on offense, several of
which led to second-chance points.
Austin said he felt the injury hurt him most on rebounding.
"Tonight I couldn't give my team what it needed on defense
because I couldn't move laterally,'' he said. "I really wasn't
able to rebound well.''
A putback by Dupree started a 7-0 run that gave LSU a 22-13
lead. A few minutes later, LSU grabbed two offensive rebounds on
one possession before Lloreda scored to give LSU a 24-14 lead.
LSU took its biggest lead of the half, 32-20, when Bright
intercepted a pass and drove in for a layup. But Bowers hit three
3-pointers in the last 3:10 of the half to bring Mississippi State
LSU outrebounded Mississippi State 31-24 for the game.
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