Freshman Mitchell helps Tigers get win

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 28, 2002

NEW ORLEANS &045; It’s a pretty safe bet Tulane had no idea what LSU freshman Darrel Mitchell could do.

And quite honestly, neither did his coach.

There are probably more who didn’t think much from the unassuming 5-11, 174-pound reserve from St. Martinville, La. But he knew it, and Mitchell gave the Tigers a spark with four 3-pointers and four steals to help the Tigers take a 76-62 win over Tulane in the second game of the Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic in the New Orleans Arena.

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&uot;When I came here, I knew that I would have to come off the bench,&uot; said Mitchell, who finished with 12 points. &uot;I prepare myself to come off the bench. I’m kind of getting used to it. In high school I was the main player, but sometimes you have to adjust and be a role player just like the others.&uot;

Mitchell hit two of the Tigers’ six 3-pointers in the second half as the Green Wave abandoned their man-to-man defense in favor of a 1-3-1 zone. Mitchell tacked on two steals in the second half as the Green Wave shot just 34 percent in the second half.

&uot;Darrel Mitchell is one of those guys who will surprise you,&uot; LSU head coach John Brady said. &uot;I went to his house and recruited him, and he didn’t say two words in a 2 1/2-hour visit. I thought he was going to Oklahoma. Thank goodness we recruited him, (assistant) Butch Pierre said sign him and we did. He never feels sorry for himself, and he never trips over his lip like others do.&uot;

The Green Wave, meanwhile, just tripped over LSU’s defense late in the game. Running what Brady refers to as the Five Red defense, the Tigers held Tulane post men Brandon Brown and Nick Sinville to 10 points in the second half after the two combined for 15 in the first.

&uot;Our guards were knocking down shots, and that was keeping us in the game,&uot; said the 6-8 Brown, who finished with 14 points and just four rebounds. &uot;They had a game plan, and it worked. The post game really didn’t get going today.&uot;

As the game went on, the Tigers got more from the inside as the shots started to fall from the perimeter. The Green Wave cut the lead to 57-53 at the 8:19 mark on a shot from Waitari Marsh, but the Tigers got a 3-pointer from Collis Temple to end Tulane’s 8-3 run.

Jaime Lloreda followed it with a bucket inside, and he hit another at the 3:01 mark to end an 11-2 LSU run for a 68-55 lead.

&uot;Every time we tried to make a run, they answered every call,&uot; Tulane head coach Shawn Finney said. &uot;Temple makes those two big 3’s in the run. They kept stretching us out and stretching us out. Torris Bright was a big factor in the game.&uot;

The Green Wave went into the zone, and fortunately for the Tigers they found the open looks in the corners.

After Tulane cut it to four, the Tigers got a 3-pointer each from Mitchell and Temple to put the lead back at 10, 52-42.

&uot;I think that was the first time we had that look from a team,&uot; said Dupree, who led all scorers with 22 points. &uot;Our corner baseline shots were open. The shots were there all night long against the 1-3-1.&uot;

Bright engineered the offense against the zone while at point guard, and the Tigers never lost control of the game.

&uot;We had some missed reads with some of our younger players,&uot; Finney said. &uot;I was worried about their inside play. We tried to make them beat us over the top, and they did. It’s a choice of two evils. He (Dupree) really gave us a lot of fits. That’s why we went to the zone &045; to try to make him hit some jump shots, which he did.&uot;

The Green Wave got plenty of production out of Marsh at the perimeter, and he was a factor in helping his team trail by just two at halftime, 34-32. Tulane shot 46.7 percent in the first half, but Marsh had nine points before the break before finishing with 27.

&uot;I thought they out-hustled us on some balls,&uot; Brady said. &uot;They rebounded the ball over us offensively more. I’d like to compliment them on how they played.

&uot;We gave up 19 offensive rebounds today. We played well enough to win the game by 12. I told our team regardless of how it happens we have 12 more points than the other team. We have a W, and they have an L. That’s why you play the game.&uot;