Saturday, February 24, 2007

Tigers Knock off National Champion Florida

In one of the most improbable upsets in school history, the unfortunate run of luck by the LSU men's ended on Saturday. But, it wasn't luck that beat No. 3 Florida. It was guts, heart and talent.
LSU (15-13, 4-10 SEC) got 18 points from Terry Martin and 17 from point guard Garrett Temple to knock off the defending national champions, 66-56.
Florida fell to 25-4 overall and 12-2 in SEC play. The Gators lost for only the second time in their past 20 contests.
The Tigers' win was a dominating team effort for 40 minutes, as Florida struggled to score from its trademark three-point shooting. The Gators, who averaged more than seven treys per game, were held to 2-of-17 beyond the arc (11.8 percent).
Meanwhile, LSU shot 51.1 percent from the field (23-45) and added 16-of-24 free throws -- easily enough offense to defeat the punchless Gators. The Tigers held a 35-22 rebounding advantage and overcame 18 turnovers by stopping Florida's transition offense.
Al Horford, who scored five points in the first five minutes, led Florida with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds. Reserve forward Chris Richard made 6-of-7 shots from close range to add 12 points before fouling out late. Defensive stopper Corey Brewer finished with 11 points. However, Brewer along with teammates Lee Humphrey and Taureen Green combined to make only 2-of-15 three pointers.
LSU came out on fire, making 10 of its first 12 shots including three three-pointers to take a 24-12 lead with 11:03 left in the first half.
Temple sparked the offense by besting his season average (8.4 ppg.) in the first seven mintes of the contest. The long-armed point guard combined slashing moves to the rim with a pair of three pointers to stun the Gators.
Though Gators reserve forward Chris Richard scored six-straight points to cut the margin to 19-12 with 12:41 left in the half, LSU responded by holding Florida without a field goal for more than eight minutes. The 9-1 LSU run pushed its lead to 28-13 with under five minutes left in the half.
A three pointer by Brewer ended the run and a dunk by Noah made it an 11-point game, 30-19. However, Noah couldn't convert the three-point play after the four-minute media timeout, and LSU answered with four-straight before Brewer's layup at the buzzer.
LSU led 34-21 at the half.
After Martin hit LSU's first shot of the half to extend the lead to 15, Florida rolled off seven-straight points to get within eight, 36-28, with 15:41 left.
Martin ended the four-minute LSU drought by hitting a three pointer to get the Tigers back on track offensively.
After a fall-away jumper by Mitchell with 14:09 left, the Tigers held the double-digit lead until the 1:10 mark with solid defense against some of the nation's best one-on-one scorers -- not to mention tough baskets against those same great players on the other end of the court.
A hook shot in the paint by Darnell Lazare increased the LSU lead to 51-35 with only 6:23 to play and forced a Florida timeout.
Two free throws by Temple gave the Tigers its largest lead, 53-35, and began a string of 19 free throw attempts by the teams in less than five minutes. LSU made 6-of-11 in that span, while Florida converted made 5-of-8.
In between, Florida added two field goals and got within 10, 54-44, on a hook shot by Richard with 2:54 left.
With LSU up 13, Florida shooting guard Lee Humphrey -- who has made 56 percent of three pointers in league play -- made his first three pointer of the game in six attempts to get back within 10 with 1:35 to play.
The free throw show started once again, as 16 more free throws were attempted in the final 1:47. LSU made 9-of-12 to close out the game.
Opening Statement "I think one of the most interesting things about competition is there is a level of uncertainty that you do not know what the outcome is going to be. That's why you have come ready to play and be focused because it doesn't make a difference what has happened in the past. The past is over with, and everyday brings a new challenge and a new opportunity. Through competition, you can find out a lot about yourself."
On the team's effort ... "I didn't think we competed at the level we needed to to win the game. I think we played against a team in LSU that had a lot of fight in them at Kentucky. They had Kentucky down by 16 points, and Kentucky came back to win the game at home. Our guys knew, certainly our coaches knew, that they were going to come out and play very, very well with the loss and absence of Glen Davis. It was amazing that the leading rebounder on their team and the maybe the league leading rebounder in Glen Davis not on the floor, and we are out-rebounded by 13 in the game. Free throw shooting, 54 percent. Obviously, the three-point line, 2-for-17. Couple that with defensively giving up 50 percent."
On their defensive effort ... "The biggest thing was we were not getting stops. We are not getting stops. Lee Humphrey and Taurean (Green) continue to struggle. We have got to get them back being able to do it. That is the thing that is difficult for our team is that we have had erratic players offensively. We have been able to overcome it with our defense. We've had erratic players offensively, and we have not guarded, we have had a very difficult time on the road with Vanderbilt and now here with LSU."

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