Louisville Cardinals LSU Postseason Games - 1985
Tiger Den Basketball
LSU Post-Season Games
LSU Post Season Games - 1985
The 1984-85 Tigers were the preseason favorites to win the SEC.
  • Four talented starters returned: juniors Don Redden, Jerry Reynolds, and Derrick Taylor plus sophomore Nikita Wilson.
  • Add one of the top recruits in the nation in 6'8" F John Williams from Los Angeles and you can see why the Tigers were so highly regarded. Williams could function at what today is called the "point forward" position. He was an excellent ballhandler, rebounder, and scorer.

LSU won their first four games, including an early conference game with Ole Miss.

  • The first loss came at Houston 81-73.
  • Three victories ended the pre-conference slate.
  • It was hard to judge the Tigers since none of their opponents had been ranked. LSU had started the season ranked #14 and had dropped four spots going into SEC play.

The Tigers lost three of their next six conference games, all against unranked foes.

  • LSU would be ranked just once the rest of the season and for only one week.
  • After underachieving for the entire season, the Tigers won their last six SEC games, including the finale over Kentucky 67-61, to finish 13-5, one game better than the Wildcats.
  • With a chance to improve their NCAA seeding, the Tigers lost their opening game in the SEC Tournament for the fourth straight year. This time it was to Auburn 58-55.

LSU received the #4 seed in the Southeast Region.

  • Their opponent would be #13 Navy at the University of Dayton Arena in Ohio. Ironically, Dayton was the team that ousted the Tigers in the first round in 1984.
  • With an impressive record of 25-5, the Midshipmen were making their first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 25 years.
  • Coach Paul Evans said, "I think it's a good situation for us. Everyone expects us to get beat. I think the coaching staff and the players don't feel that way, though."
  • The game would provide an opportunity for Navy to introduce their 6'11" sophomore C David Robinson to the nation.

Coach Evans watched film of three LSU games and was much impressed with the Tigers' talent. However, he and his players were not intimidated.

  • The Middies warned the Tigers that they'd better come ready to play.
  • "If they don't," said 6'7" F Vernon Butler, "we're going to kick their butts. We have to prove to people that we can play basketball. We just have to go out and do our jobs."
  • Robinson had the same message. "If they don't, they'll be in for a game. We don't have play incredible or anything like that. We just have to play well, and I think we'll beat them."

While Navy may have enjoyed the emotional edge, the oddsmakers made LSU 5 1/2-point favorites to snap their nine-game post-season losing streak.

  • Coach Dale Brown reminded his team all week of the 74-66 loss to unheralded Dayton in the 1984 West Regional.
  • Brown said Navy, which played a disciplined offensive game and hard-nosed defense, reminded him of Dayton. "We have to play like we did during the stretch run (of the SEC regular season). We have to do the same thing here. If we don't realize immediately that we have to play hard, we'll be back in Baton Rouge before sunset."
  • "We have to play each game like it's for the national championship," said G Don Redden. "We haven't been hungry enough, and that's why we've gone home early."

LSU starting lineup

  • F Don Redden (Monroe): 6'6" junior
  • F John Williams (Los Angeles): 6'8" freshman
  • C Nikita Wilson (Leesville): 6'7" freshman
  • G Jerry Reynolds (Brooklyn NY): 6'8" junior
  • G Derrick Taylor (Baton Rouge): 6'0" sophomore

Which LSU team would show up in Dayton? The SEC champions who won their last six regular season games or the lackluster Tigers who lost in the first round of the conference tournament?

  • LSU started slowly, missing their first four shots and seemingly just going through the motions in the first half. The only thing that kept the Tigers in the game in the first half was Navy's subpar shooting, which was surprising for a team that led the nation in field goal percentage. "We went out the first six minutes and were tentative," said Coach Evans. "But we didn't want to make mistakes and give LSU a chance to blow us out. We had our worst shooting half of the season."
    With Don Redden, Derrick Taylor, and Jerry Reynolds not hitting from outside, Navy's zone clogged up the middle for Nikita Wilson and John Williams. "It was hard to get the ball inside against them," said Williams. "So we had to take the outside jumpers, I'd say we took some bad shots."
    The Midshipmen led 28-24 at the half as LSU never established any tempo of its own.

LSU fans hoping to see the Tigers come out fired up in the second half were sadly disappointed.

  • Coach Evans told his team at halftime, "If we can hit some shots, we can win this game."
    Navy scored the first 11 points of the half as the Tigers continued ice cold, missing their first six shots and turning it over twice.
    The deficit reached 39-24 with 15 minutes left. The closest LSU came after that was 11 points on two occasions. "We didn't make a serious run at them," said Brown.
    The Midshipmen stretched their lead into the 20s with free throws and layups after breaking the Tiger press in the closing minutes.
    Wilson, LSU's leading rebounder, was completely outplayed by Robinson. Nikita got into foul difficulty early and got his fifth with 8:27 left.
    Williams was the only LSU player to shoot more than 50% from the field, hitting six of eight. He was also the only Tiger in double digits with 12 points. Taylor, Reynolds, and Redden shot a combined 4-of-26. The Tigers' 33.8% shooting was by far their lowest of the season after averaging 50.8 going into the game.
    Robinson, who would enjoy a 14-year NBA career that landed him in the Hall of Fame, ended the game with 18 points and 18 rebounds.
    FINAL SCORE: Navy 78 LSU 55

Postgame

  • Coach Brown: "I can't deny that this was one of the most gratifying years I've ever had. But it was one of the most disappointing in the end. If it was just wins and losses, I'd quit today." He added: "I think we were burned out. We just didn't seem to have the coordination, the spark" that they exhibited near the end of the regular season. "It seemed like we had done what we wanted to do."
  • Don Redden expressed similar sentiments. "Emotion was a big factor. After we won the Kentucky game (to claim the SEC title), we just didn't stay hungry. Navy was hungry."
  • The Midshipmen accomplished their mission of proving they were much better than a #13 seed. Nikita Wilson: "Navy has a pretty good basketball team."
    Ricky Blanton: "They're fundamentally sound."
  • Derrick Taylor: "They play a good style of basketball." He added an analysis of his own team's play. "I thought everybody was a little hesitant to take the shot and make the play. They were scared to make a mistake. That's not the attitude I thought we would have."
  • David Robinson: "When we came out, I didn't think they'd have too much respect for us. I scored a couple of baskets, and they closed in on me. Then Vernon (Butler) decided to get some respect. It's good that we have that balance. I'd score s couple, then Vernon would score a couple."
  • Navy G Doug Wojcik: "It was such a horrible first half, and LSU didn't play well at all. They didn't have any movement at all. They're great athletes, but they played so poorly. They're so much better than us athletically. ... They didn't play too smart today."


Don Redden


Jerry Reynolds


Derrick Taylor


Nikita Wilson


John Williams


David Robinson

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Tiger Den Basketball Archives – I
Tiger Firsts: Basketball Team | LSU National Champs | Joe Adcock | Pistol vs UCLA | Eddie Palubinskas | Dazzling Debut: Chris Jackson | Tiger Firsts: Final Four | Dale Brown Takes Over

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – II
BR Sports Academy | Four Little Points | Harry Rabenhorst | Shaq's 30-point SEC Game | Maravich's Freshman Circus | First AP Poll Ranking | The Dark Knight Strikes | Ricky Blanton | Tigers Are Back!

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – III
"Most Bizarre Set of Circumstances I Ever Saw" | Joe Dean | The Cow Palace | Still Playing at 41 | Pioneer | "It's the socks, Pete!" | Largest Deficit Overcome | Maravich Is for Real

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – IV
"Little Giant" | Shaquille O'Neal | Pete Breaks His Own Mark | What a Difference a Day Makes | When Lexington Went Wild over Beating the Tigers | Superdome Sizzlers

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – V
Pistol Pete Invades the Big Apple
Memorable Games: Kentucky 1978
Profile: Bobby Lowder
1938 SEC Tournament

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – VI
First Visit to the Big Apple
Don't Look Ahead
Profile: Bob Pettit I, II, III, IV
Pete's Farewell
Redemption

Tiger Den Basketball Archives – VII
Season in Time: 2005-06

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