OXFORD, Miss. — LSU got the kind of offensive help it has sorely needed for Glen Davis on Wednesday, as senior Darnell Lazare turned in the best scoring game of his career.
Lazare was noticeably more aggressive with the ball in his hands and finished with a career-high 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor. He produced 12 points in the first half
“I just wanted to come out and do what I could to help the team win,” said Lazare, who had never scored more than 16 in an Southeastern Conference game.
“They weren’t guarding me at first, so I was taking advantage of some opportunities. Then when they started guarding me I wanted to get the ball to the open man.”
Despite his outburst, Lazare didn’t walk away satisfied.
“We still didn’t get the ‘W,’ and at the end of the day that’s all that matters,” he said.
Defending the 3-point arc was just as much a problem Wednesday on LSU’s second visit to Mississippi as it was when the Tigers ventured to the Magnolia State 11 days earlier.
Ole Miss peppered the LSU defense with seven 3-pointers in the first half, one fewer than Mississippi State had Feb. 3. The Rebels cooled off collectively over the final 20 minutes, hitting 2-of-11 to finish the night 9-of-27.
Clarence Sanders’ red-hot hand never cooled down. The 6-foot-1 senior guard rifled in five 3s in the first half and two more in the second, matching his season- and career-high with seven makes outside the arc. His biggest shot, of course, was the 18-foot dagger from the right corner inside the final second that spurred Ole Miss to the 71-70 victory.
The Tigers come home to host Mississippi State at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs (14-10, 5-6) used a late run to break open a back-and-forth tussle with LSU on Feb. 3 and claimed an 85-78 win in Starkville, Miss. On Wednesday, State trounced Arkansas 84-60, which matched the Bulldogs’ widest margin of victory all season.
Although the Bulldogs are stuck in the clump of West Division teams battling for survival, they aren’t far from being in the top spot. Four of MSU’s league losses have come by four points or less — 64-60 at Kentucky, 70-67 to No. 1-ranked Florida, 66-63 to South Carolina and 80-79 to 19th-ranked Alabama last week.
State has lost four of its last five games in Baton Rouge and hasn’t swept the Tigers since 2004.
LSU is 0-6 in SEC road games this season after winning six league games away from Baton Rouge last season and four in 2004-05. … Tigers guard Terry Martin finished with no points for the third time this season and second time in SEC play. He missed the only two field goals he attempted in 31 minutes. Martin is LSU’s third-leading scorer with 10.5 points a game. … The Tigers (14-11, 3-8) have more regular-season losses this season than they have finished with in any season since 2001-02. … LSU scored only five points over the final 5:36 after taking a 65-59 lead. The Tigers shot a season-best 60.9 percent from the field (28 of 46) but missed two of their final three shots. … Ole Miss committed a season-low four turnovers, its 10th game this season with single digits in giveaways. No Rebel had more than one turnover, while LSU’s starting backcourt of Garrett Temple and Martin had six and five, respectively.