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LSU Men Get Late Push to Beat Rebels

POSTED: Sunday, February 15, 2009 - 1:01am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:57pm

For the LSU Tigers, it was just another night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. That’s the impression when one looks at the final score, a 73-66 win over the Ole Miss Rebels.

But that tells so little of a game in which LSU had to rally from an eight-point second half deficit at a time when it looked like no answer was coming.

In the end, the Tigers won for the 21st time in 25 games and ran its overall SEC leading record to 9-1. The Tigers lead the Western Division by three full games over Mississippi State as the Bulldogs lost at Auburn to fall to 6-4. Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina remain two games behind LSU in the overall race at 7-3 after winning today.

LSU, down five at the half as the Rebels were able to get the lead in the first half on 15 second chance points and LSU’s 5-of-11 first half free throw shooting. In the second half, the problems continued for LSU as Ole Miss traded buckets with LSU and would lead 62-54 with 9:13 to play on a Terrance Henry layup.

But the Rebels would score just four points the rest of the way. It would be over two minutes before the run started, but when Marcus Thornton hit a three at the 7:06 mark to make it 62-57 and then a steal by Garrett Temple that led to a Thornton bucket forced Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy to call timeout, the crowd sensed a comeback.

Both teams missed shots on four combined possessions before Chris Johnson drained a jumper to cut the lead to just 62-61 with 4:52 to play and the crowd was on its feet in full throat.

Ole Miss missed again and would come down and foul Tasmin Mitchell who made both free throws to put LSU up for good at 63-62. The Rebels missed a three-pointer and at the other end Thornton hit a layup to make the lead 65-62 and eventually 67-62 with 2:15 to play as LSU scored 13 straight points before Murphy Holloway countered with a score to make it 67-64 with two minutes to play.

Johnson would score to make it 69-64 at the one minute mark and Ole Miss could not make up the difference in the final minute.

Thornton led LSU with 22 points, while Tasmin Mitchell followed up his 41-point night with 20 points and just missed a third straight double double with nine boards. Chris Johnson had 12 points and six blocks and Terry Martin in his first start of the year had 11. Temple’s return to the point guard spot was successful with nine assists.

Ole Miss (13-11, 4-6) was led by the 15 of David Huertas. Terrico White and Holloway had 13 each and Malcolm White added 10.

“Again, I thought we showed some mental toughness,” said Coach Trent Johnson. “I don’t want to take anything away from Ole Miss, but obviously we weren’t at our best. I thought we were struggling a little bit but when you lose your point guard it takes away your continuity and rhythm. It’s not to say anything about the guys that were out there playing, but you are so used to playing with your set five and I though Garrett did a good job Terry did a good job offensively.”

This was the first game this year LSU played without point guard Bo Spencer, who sprained her left ankle in the Mississippi State game Wednesday. His status is listed as day-to-day.

The Tigers travel to Fayetteville, Ark., on Wednesday to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at 7 p.m.