Tigers hold on to pull upset of Arizona

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 21, 2002

BATON ROUGE. &045; Lute Olson came close to exorcising his personal and his Arizona team’s demons from inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Saturday night, but the gods weren’t smiling on him once again.

The No. 1 Wildcats, who lost 92-82 to LSU against Shaquille O’Neal’s Tigers and 86-60 in 2000 against Stromile Swift’s Sweet 16 team, had an inbounds pass batted away with .5 seconds left to go 0-3 in Baton Rouge in the last 12 years.

And like those same historic days, the energy that reverberated from wall-to-wall on Saturday in the PMAC was electric in the Tigers’ 66-65 upset.

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&uot;Now you see why it’s called the Deaf Dome,&uot; said Tigers’ head coach John Brady, who improved to 2-2 against Arizona. &uot;I’m deaf from just being in there. When the fans are like that it’s a difficult place to play.&uot;

Leading by as much as 15 in the second half, LSU almost gave those same die-hards a reason to weep uncontrollably. LSU (7-1) could have run the clock out with 35 seconds left, but Ronald Dupree inexplicably drove to the basket and dribbled the ball out-of-bounds to the Wildcats.

Arizona (5-1) called a timeout to set up a play with 12 seconds left. Senior guard Jason Gardner ran the clock down to four seconds before driving where he slipped and lost the ball out-of-bounds off of LSU, though.

As he inbounded the ball with .5 seconds, LSU guard Torris Bright tipped the ball up as time expired, ensuring the win. The LSU floor resembled a goalpost-tearing scene with fans mobbing players, but leaving goals intact.

&uot;We wanted them to beat us with something to the goal so we were in our five-switch (defense),&uot; Brady said of Arizona’s last possession. &uot;Torris Bright made a great effort to get his hands on the ball and make it go awry.&uot;

From the last 7:52 of the first half to 15:14 left in the game, LSU surged ahead of the top team in the country by 14 points, 42-28, on the strength of a 31-11 run.

The Tigers got there by going strong to the hole and playing aggressive from every inch of the floor, offensively and defensively.

A major factor was Ju-Co transfer Jaime Lloreda, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, and his ability to get every board off the glass.

&uot;That was the type of game I was waiting for on the day I signed with LSU,&uot; Lloreda said. &uot;(Arizona) has good players, but my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball.&uot;

Arizona had four players scoring in double figures, three with 11 and Gardner leading the way with 16.

The Wildcats opened the second half missing their first 15 shots from the field, only scoring on free throws from Gardner, Richie Anderson and Salim Stoudamire.

Despite holding a double-digit lead for most of the final 20, LSU’s aggressiveness that got it ahead, let up.

The Wildcats went on a 9-0 run to cut the margin to three, 51-48, with 5:09 to play.

&uot;We were a much different team the last five or six minutes than we were earlier in the game,&uot; Olson said. &uot;We have to play with that sense of urgency all the time. I think the team that played the hardest, the longest, obviously won.&uot;

Antonio Hudson led LSU and all scorers with 20 points on 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point land. Dupree added 12 to give the Tigers three players in double figures.

After the Wildcats cut it to three Lloreda drew a foul, made the basket and raised the roof off the Maravich Assembly Center. His and-1 was good to push the lead to seven, 58-51 with 4:03 to play.

The Wildcats got back to within three seconds later, but another three-point play &045; this one from Dupree &045; got the lead back to six and the fans out of their seats.

&uot;What a great place to play,&uot; Brady said. &uot;You have to compliment Arizona for making a run like any great team does, but you have to give credit to our players too for the way they played against the best team in the country right now.&uot;

On the strength of a 3-pointer, the Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Jason Gardner’s consecutive treys erased the LSU lead and surged Arizona ahead.

The Wildcats pushed the lead up to as many as six, 15-9, with 11 minutes to play in the first. The Tigers were advantageous that the margin didn’t grow substantially more with three turnovers on consecutive trips down the floor.

LSU played its way back into the contest with its fierceness. The Tigers used a 6-0 run to knot the score 17-all and didn’t stop there. On four successive possessions LSU took it right to the rack, highlighted by freshman Darryl Mitchell’s reverse layup on the senior all-American Gardner.

&uot;This game put us back on the map,&uot; Dupree said. &uot;We have gone through scholarship trouble and have had lack of depth. This game was for the fans. It was time for us to win big and get this town excited about something.&uot;