Tiger Den Basketball Archives –VII
Season in Time - 2005-06
I - Pre-Conference Games

John Brady

Darrel Mitchell

Tack Minor

Darnell Lazare

Garrett Temple

Tasmin Mitchell

Chris Johnson

Magnum Rolle

David Fleshman

Oliver Lawrence lets fly over Garrett Temple.

Heading into his ninth season as head coach at LSU, John Brady had compiled a 140-102 record.
  • Taking over a program that had fallen into disrepair and NCAA sanctions under Dale Brown, Brady took three years to achieve a winning record. His 1999-00 club went 28-6 and won the SEC regular season championship with a 12-4 mark. Then they defeated Southeast Missouri State and Texas in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Wisconsin 61-48 in the Sweet Sixteen.
  • But the program immediately fell back into the doldrums, going 2-14 in conference play in 2000-01, then 6-10 in '01-02 before identical 8-8 marks in both '03 and '04.
  • With an infusion of local talent led by SEC Player of the Year Brandon Bass, the '04-05 Tigers finished atop the SEC West at 12-4 and 20-10 overall. But even that promising campaign ended on a sour note when LSU lost to UAB in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 82-68.
    Brady on the UAB loss: I've never seen a more depressed, sad, angry locker room that I did [that] year.
    Junior F Darnell Lazare: It stayed with us for a long time. In high school, all of us were state champions more than once, and we had a chance to win a championship on a national level. Not being able to do that and to play like we did left a bad taste in our mouths.

Prospects looked bright for '05-'06 with a mix of returning players and promising newcomers.

  • Start with the top scorer (13.5 ppg) and rebounder (8.8 rpg) 6'9" Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who won SEC Freshman of the Year honors in '05. In the off-season, the University High grad changed his diet and worked hard in the weight room to reduce to 306 pounds. As a result, he made the USA U21 team that competed in the U21 World Championships in Argentina.
    Davis recalled meeting with the coaches after the 2004-05 season: They asked me what I wanted for myself and for the team, and my answer was that I want to be great. To do that, to go from being a good player to being a great one, I had to lose some weight and be in the best shape of my life. ... I had to trade Chips Ahoy for organic oatmeal.
  • The Tigers' lone senior, Darrel Mitchell, provided the chief 3-point threat with the ability to take over games and make key shots down the stretch. He entered the season just 35 points shy of 1,000 career points.
  • PG Tack Minor would miss the first four games as part of a university-related disciplinary issue.
  • 6'8" junior Darnell Lazare could play both forward positions.
  • The newcomers included three Baton Rouge area products: 6'5" G Garrett Temple, son of Collis Temple Jr. and younger brother of Collis III; 6'7" Tyrus Thomas with incredible jumping ability; 6'7" F Tasmin Mitchell, a McDonald's All-American who had started at Denham Springs High School since his freshman year; 6'11" Chris Johnson and 6'10" Magnum Rolle, who led Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina to the prep school national championship.
    Tasmin Mitchell: Normally freshmen come in, and coaches have to teach them this, teach them that. I had a feel for the game. I had a feel for the guys I was playing with. I played with those guys before. We grew up together. It takes other freshmen time to feel the team out. It took me maybe 24 hours. We already had the cohesiveness.
    Lazare: That summer leading into the fall, the coaching staff knew we were going to have a talented team. Our summer strength and conditioning program was elevated a few notches.

Before turning their thoughts to basketball, the Tigers had to contend with Hurricane Katrina that hit Louisiana August 29.

  • The Pete Maravich Assembly Center became a triage center handling emerging medical cases.
  • The roundballers had to move their workouts from the practice gym ("The Dungeon") below the Assembly Center to the University Laboratory School or the student rec center.
    Sophomore G David Fleshman: It got us out of our routine. We were thrown off our typical schedule, out of our comfort zone. Helicopters were flying into Bernie Moore Track Stadium. The Dungeon where we would practice became a temporary morgue.

The Tigers started with two breathers against local opposition.

  • They belted Southern 84-56 in the opener.
  • Nicholls State fell 104-57.

Glen Davis vs Southern

Then came a major test on the road at West Virginia.

  • It's going to be a challenge for our team, said Brady. The biggest thing for me is, can our team have the poise it takes for them to sustain some quality play to beat a very good team on its home court in front of a sellout crowd? Whatever happens, this is going to be a good experience for our team. We'll be better for what we go through, win or lose.
  • The Mountaineers fielded a veteran team, with four seniors and a junior returning from 2005's Elite Eight team that beat LSU in Baton Rouge.
  • The Tigers passed their first test by defeating WVU 71-68 in OT thanks to not one but two clutch three-pointers by Darrel Mitchell. First, he hit a clutch 3-pointer with 21.6 seconds left in regulation to send the game into OT. Then he drained another 3 from deep in the right corner with 5.6 left.
  • LSU went on a 14-1 run to open a 15-point first-half lead. But WVU scored the final five points of the half to make it 37-27 at the intermission.
  • Better 3-point shooting and Tiger turnovers allowed the home team to take the lead 57-56 with 4:37 on the clock. The lead went back and forth until Darrel Mitchell's 3-pointer tied the game at 62. LSU then survived WVU's last possession, which included two missed shots from under the basket.
  • Darrel led all scorers with 26 while Davis added 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Tyrus Thomas vs Houston

LSU rose to #25 in the AP rankings but that didn't last long.

  • The following Tuesday they lost at home to Houston 84-83.
  • 6'3" G Oliver Lafayette, a Baton Rouge native who attended Capitol High School, popped in 32 points, including 10-of-13 shooting in the second half to help bring the Cougars from 15 points down to victory. Lawrence was named National Player of the Week by the Sporting News.
  • Darrel Mitchell again led the Tigers with 25 while Thomas came off the bench to score 21 and grab 11 rebounds.
  • LSU's downfall was 21 turnovers.

The Tigers bounced back with three home wins - McNeese State 90-70, UNO 94-53, and ULL 81-62.

  • Then they lost at home to Northern Iowa in a low-scoring contest 54-50 that saw Tack Minor return to action. The Tigers shot only 41.5% overall and just 3-11 from 3-point range. Darrel Mitchell led all scorers with 22.
  • Right before Christmas, the Tigers participated in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic. They clobbered Arkansas-Monticello 75-48 before dropping a close one to Cincinnati 75-72. The Bearcats won despite being outre­bounded 38-25 and outscored in the paint 40-20. The reason? The Tigers turned the ball over 23 times to Cincy's 14. Davis led LSU with 21 while Mitchell added 17.

With the West Virginia game seeming more like an anomaly than an omen, the Tigers struggled to gel before starting conference play.

  • They lost at Ohio State 78-76 New Year's Eve. The Buckeyes trailed by 15 points with just over 5 1/2 minutes to play and were down 10 with 2 1/2 left before scoring the final 12 points. With a lineup dominated by freshmen, LSU became rattled near the end. It's not Christmas, it's New Year's, but maybe we gave them a game, said Brady.
  • Returning to the friendly confines of the P-Mac, the Tigers took out their frustration on Tulane 75-58.
  • Then they hit the road for their last game before conference play. The result was another heartbreaking loss, this one to UConn 67-66. The Huskies rallied from 14 points down in the second half to take the lead and hold on when Darrel Mitchell's 3-pointer at the buzzer banged off the backboard.
    Temple recalled: The UConn game was the game I thought, This team can really do something. That game really showed exactly everyone what his role was going to be. Darrell being a big shot maker. Glen Davis ta­king over in the paint, dominating. Tyrus dunking everything. I remember a guy like Josh Boone, who was a top 10 player in the nation, looking at Tyrus with the look in his eye, like, Who is this guy?

So the Tigers entered SEC play 8-5, the five losses by a combined total of 11 points.

Quotations from Tiger Rag, March 1, 2016

To be continued ...

II - Conference Schedule Part 1
LSU entered SEC play in 2006 with an 8-5 record, losing the five games by a combined 11 points.
F Darnell Lazare recalled: Approaching the SEC, we had lost some games, so we were under the radar. Those guys on the team were more than just teammates. Every night, you're just playing for your teammate ...
F Tyrus Thomas: It was time for us to ... start the new season off on the right foot.
Coach John Brady: Once we developed the confidence, we really played well all year in league play. ... Those guys just complemented each other so well. Each player had his role and knew his role and fit that role. There was no selfishness on that team at all.
  • In Fayetteville, the Tigers led by as many as 12 in the second half before the Razorbacks pulled to 59-58 on Eric Ferguson's drive with just over a minute left. But Tasmin Mitchell answered with a jumper. After Glen Davis intercepted a pass, Big Baby missed the front end of a 1-and-1, the ball going out of bounds with 5.5 seconds on the clock. LSU fouled rather than let the Hogs try a 3-pointer, but Don­tell Jefferson missed the front end. Mitchell rebounded and made two FTs to seal the 63-58 victory. Tasmin led the Tigers with 19 points. For the first time in 262 games, LSU did not make a 3-point shot, missing all seven attempts.
  • Tennessee provided the opposition for the home opener. The Tigers kept their cool against the Vols' helter-skelter pressure offense and defense and overcame 25 turnovers, including 17 in the first half. LSU broke open a tight 30-27 game to win going away. Davis led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Tyrus Thomas just missed a triple double with 17 points (on 7-for-7 FG shooting), nine re­bounds, and nine blocks.
  • A trip to Starkville produced a 71-57 victory as the Tigers took the lead early and kept the Bulldogs 7 or more points at bay the entire second half. Davis, the SEC's scoring leader, with 17, Darrel Mitchell with 15, and Thomas with 14 led the point production. But the LSU defense sparked the victory, holding MSU to one FG during a six­minute stretch of the first half. The Tigers won their first three con­ference games for the first time since 1994-95.
  • The Bengals started sluggishly at home against Alabama, trailing 19-8 before battling back to take a four-point halftime lead. The Tide stayed close and trailed only 48-44 with 6:41 to play before LSU used a late run to prevail 58-47. Darrel Mitchell led LSU with 19 points. Davis threw in 17. Thomas snared 12 rebounds and blocked four shots in only 26 minutes on the court.
  • Georgia came to Baton Rouge and absorbed an 81-52 drubbing. The Tigers proved they deserved to be ranked after starting SEC play 5-0 for the first time since the fabulous 1980-81 team. Darrel Mit­chell erupted for 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting (5-of-7 from 3-point land).
  • When you take an undefeated record on the road in the SEC, it helps to take good care of the ball. And that the Tigers did, committing only seven turnovers while forcing 16 in a 79-73 triumph at Ole Miss. Darrel Mitchell continued his hot shooting, canning 8-of-12 shots including 5-of-7 three-pointers and all seven FTs for 28 points. Fresh­man Tasmin Mitchell added a career-best 20. Davis overcame a knee injury sustained in the first half and foul trouble throughout to tally 19.
  • Finally inching into the rankings at #24, the Tigers belted Auburn 84-69 in the PMAC in front of 11,131 on a Wednesday night. Darrell led the assault for the third straight game with 27 points and had eight assists. Davis and Thomas chipped in 17 apiece with Tyrus again having a perfect game from the field (7-of-7) and a team-best nine rebounds. LSU shot a sizzing 63% from the field, including 71.4% (15 of 21) in the second half.
  • The winning streak finally came to an end on a Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers struggled shooting from the perimeter throughout - especially in the second half - but stayed close until the final minute with great defense. Bama finally stretched their lead to 64-58 on four straight FTs off back-to-back LSU turnovers. But Tas­min sank a three to cut the lead in half with 50 seconds remaining. The Tigers elected not to foul and got a defensive stop. Darrel drew a foul on a fast break but missed the first of two FTs. After he made the second, LSU fouled Ronald Steele with 9.6 seconds on the clock. He calmly sank both to seal the 67-62 victory. Despite the loss, the Tigers still held a two-game margin over the Tide in the West.
  • Brady's Bunch rebounded to take a home win against Arkansas - barely. With 11.2 seconds to play, Darrel Mitchell's 235th 3-pointer proved to be the winner as Ronnie Brewer missed a jump shot inside the circle. Darrel's basket thwarted a furious Razorback comeback that saw the Tigers lose a 75-63 lead with 4:35 remain­ing. Once again, Darrel topped all scorers with 27. Davis contributed 19 points and 16 rebounds.
  • Three days later, the road was unkind to the Tigers again. #7 Flo­rida won 71-62 as Joakim Noah and Al Horford scored 16 each. LSU went on a 12-0 run to take a 51-45 lead. But the Gators re­sponded with a 16-3 run of their own to take control. Davis canned 16 and snared 15 rebounds while Tasmin Mitchell added 14. But the duo combined for only 10 points in the second half. Darrel Mitchell's hot streak ended. LSU's leading scorer had only 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

After ten league games, the Tigers led the SEC West with an 8-2 record, one game ahead of Alabama and one game behind Tennessee, the East leader at 9-1.

Quotations from Tiger Rag, March 1, 2016

To be continued ...

Tyrus Thomas blocks shot of Alabama's Jemareo Davidson.

Glen Davis in throwback uniform against Georgia.

Tasmin Mitchell against Ole Miss

Darrel Mitchell against Arkansas

III - Conference Schedule - 2

John Brady

Big Baby Davis scores on UK.

Darrel Mitchell on his Senior Day vs Ole Miss.

Tigers celebrate unveiling of 2006 SEC Championship banner.

Coming off a loss to Florida February 11, the Tigers ripped off seven wins in a row.
  • The streak started with a 72-59 triumph over Mississippi State in the PMAC. Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas led with 19 and 16 points respec­tively and 13 rebounds each. G Garrett Temple was not surprised the two big men played well. They realized that they didn't play their best game at Florida, and they came out the last few days and focused on not letting that happen again. The Tigers led only 34-27 at halftime but took control with a 14-2 burst when play resumed.
  • Next, the Bengals survived a trip to Auburn, returning home with a hard-fought 65-61 victory. Because of early foul trouble, Tasmin Mitchell hadn't scored in the first 39:30 of the game, but that didn't stop Coach John Brady from calling his number with the game on the line. The fresh­man scored off a set play to edge the Tigers in front 63-61. The host Ti­gers then had a couple of chances to tie or take the lead, but Quantez Robertson missed a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left, and Ronny LeMelle missed a jumper three seconds later. Davis coralled the rebound and sank two clinching FTs with one tick left. Glen led all scorers with 24 - 17 in the second half - while Darrel Mitchell added 16.
  • The schedule sent the Tigers to Memorial Gym in Nashville where Brady had yet to score a victory in five visits and Vanderbilt held a 33-12 mar­gin. But this Tiger team showed they were a different breed with a 77-66 win that clinched the SEC West. Darrel Mitchell's 21 topped the scoring list. LSU led by as many as 13 in the second half before the Commodores cut the margin to two with 3:16 on the clock. But Davis answered with a dunk that shook the backboard, then took the ball away under his own basket and sank two FTs to regain control.
  • Now came Kentucky to Baton Rouge in a contest televised nationally by CBS. Tubby Smith's Wildcats sported an 18-9 record, 8-5 in the SEC. Tubby's personal record against LSU was 11-1. The Tigers wore throw­back jerseys to honor the 1986 team whose journey to the Final Four included a dramatic victory over UK in the Elite Eight. It was unusual for LSU to win a game at the FT line, but that's what happened in front of 11,576. The Tigers canned 14-of-16 freebies in the final 7:24 to defeat Kentucky for the first time in six seasons. Patrick Sparks hit two three pointers in the final 1:14 to bring the visitors within one and then tie the game at 67 with 29 seconds left. But Tasmin made two FTs with 0:13 left and, after a UK miss, Davis made two more with a second remaining to pull out the 71-67 win.
  • Leading the SEC by one game with two to play, the Bengals hit the road again. The South Carolina Gamecocks were barely over .500 at 14-13 and 5-9 in the league, but they produced their best effort for the ESPN prime time audience. Coming off an emotional game three days earlier, the #21 Bengals survived a rocky first half in which SC shot lights out by ratcheting up the defense in the final 20 minutes to pull out a 64-61 tri­umph. Fortunately, Davis played his typical game - 24 points and 10 re­bounds. As he had done several times previously, he tossed in two game-sealing FTs with 1.9 seconds left to cap a 10-for-11 effort from the stripe. That clinched at least a tie for the regular season title. It feels good, said Big Baby, but we're not finished yet. We have a goal, and it's right in front of us. We have to go and accomplish it. When Tennessee lost to Kentuc­ky, LSU claimed its first undisputed SEC regular season championship since 1985.
  • Still, the Tigers wanted to end on a winning note at home against Ole Miss. But the Rebels, having just learned that coach Rod Barnes would not return for 2006-07, made the task very difficult. The visitors ended Davis's double-double streak at eight but couldn't stop Glen from playing the pivotal role in helping the Tigers hang on in the last minutes after a 7-0 run in the middle of the half put them up 35-33. LSU made 12-of-15 FTs over the final 5:30 to hold off the Rebs, 55-52.

Tigers hold regular season trophy presented at SEC Tournament.

The Tigers went to Nashville for the SEC Tournament as the #1 seed.

  • After enjoying a bye the first day, LSU had no trouble with Vanderbilt at the Gaylord Entertainment Center despite having two starters ailing. Ty­rus Thomas rested his sprained left ankle on the bench, and Darrel Mitchell tied a season low with 6 points. However, Davis took up the slack with a career-high 28 points and 13 boards to lead the 92-73 romp. Coach Kevin Stallings said LSU overwhelmed his Commodores. They were quicker to balls, and Davis was obviously dominant in every facet. That's probably the best I've seen LSU play with or without Tyrus Thomas ...
  • But the Tigers could not overcome the loss of Thomas in the semifinals the next day. #16 Florida handed #17 LSU its biggest defeat of the season, 81-65. The Gators' talented front line thwarted Davis at every turn, holding him to 12 points with only two coming in the first half. UF pulled away with a 16-3 run that led to a 72-59 advantage with 4:20 left. The Mitchells led LSU in scoring, Darrel 21 and Tasmin 20.

That cleared the decks for the NCAA Tournament. LSU and Florida would use March Madness to prove they were both grossly underrated.

Continued below ...

NCAA Tournament - Iona and Texas A&M
The 23-8 Tigers entered the 2006 NCAA Tournament as the #4 in the Atlanta Regional.
  • Their first opponent was #13 Iona in Jacksonville FL.
  • LSU started sluggishly and trailed at the end of the half, 37-32, in one of the most shocking developments of first round play. Glen Davis missed eight of his first nine shots and scored only 5 points in the first 30 minutes of play.
  • But the SEC Player of the Year heated up after intermission, finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds to lead all players in both categories. As a result, the Tigers won going away, 80-64.
    Iona's Ricky Soliver shook his head in amazement. I didn't know he was that big. When we were warming up, I saw him, and my eyes just opened up. He's a load down there. I didn't think he was that much of a problem. But a big guy like that shooting fadeaways? He killed us down low.
  • Darrel Mitchell, John Brady's lone senior, added 19 for LSU, which used an 18-7 run to pull out of a 38-38 tie and never look back.
  • Gaels coach Jeff Ruland, who led the school to its only NCAA tournament victory in 1980 before starting an eight-year NBA career, summarized the game like this: As a team, they wore us down with their size. Obviously 65 percent in the second half's not going to cut it.

Darrel Mitchell drives vs Iona.

#12 Texas A&M (22-8), an upset winner over Syracuse, provided the next opposition for the Tigers.

  • The undisputed leader for A&M was junior G Acie Law, who averaged 16.1 ppg.
  • Billy Gillispie's Aggies hung their hats on defense. Their foes averaged just 55.5 ppg and shot only 37.4% from the floor. The Tigers would exceed that total - just barely.
  • LSU raced to a 15-3 lead only to have the Aggies run off 17 in a row.
  • The rest of the game devolved in a defensive struggle as A&M doubled down on Big Baby every time he got the ball. The first half ended in a 29-29 deadlock.
  • Finally, a 12-5 run seemed to put the Tigers in charge 53-46 with only 3:31 left. But TAMU responded with seven straight to tie the game with 2:02 on the clock.
  • Davis missed a jumper at the 1:28 mark and A&M grabbed the rebound. After a timeout, Joseph Jones canned a jumper at the 1:09 mark.
  • But Davis answered with a clutch jumper of his own with 42 seconds left.
  • The Aggies worked Law free for a southpaw jumper 24 ticks later.
  • LSU then ran a play called "Special" designed to create either a scoring opportunity for Davis or, depending on how the defense played it, an open jumper for Darrel Mitchell. Finding himself open on the right side beyond the 3-point line with less than 8 seconds remaining and undaunted by the fact that he had missed all six of his previous threes, Darrel let fly. Swish with four seconds to go! 58-57 Tigers win!
    Brady: It was our two best players involved in the last play of the game with the game on the line. That's what I'm going with. ... When he let it go, I just felt confident it was going in. I call him "The Silent Assassin" because he doesn't say much, but when it's time to deliver, he can do that. He's hit seven or eight of those in his career.

LSU advanced to the Sweet 16 for only the second time since 1993, their last trip coming under Brady in 2000.

Darrel Mitchell hits game winner.

Continued below ...

Tyrus Thomas vs Iona

Tasmin Mitchell vs Iona

Glen Davis vs Texas A&M

Magnum Rolle vs Texas A&M

Sweet Sixteen - Duke

Garrett Temple in J. J. Redick's face

Davis and Thomas sandwich Redick

Tasmin Mitchell dunks as Williams watches.

J.J. struggles to get around Temple.

Magnum Rolle loses control of rebound. Icon Sportswire

Thomas guards basket against Redick.

Rolle dunks over Williams and Ron Paulus.
Icon Sportswire

Davis defends Redick.

Josh McRoberts goes over Tasmin Mitchell for a rebound.
Icon Sportswire

Dick Enberg interviews Big Baby.

The Tigers moved to the 2006 Sweet Sixteen in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
  • The opponent was Duke, the top seed in the Southeast Region and the proud owners of a 32-3 record. The Blue Devils were making their ninth straight appearance in the Sweet 16.
  • The matchup, which began at 7:10 PM EST, would be televised to approximately 75% of the nation by CBS Sports, a figure that indicated the widespread interest in the game.
  • In his press conference the day before the game, Brady, who took the Tigers to the Sweet 16 in 2000, said this: We have had a really fine season at this point. We have done it with some young players. We're excited about the opportunity. We'll see how we play.
  • Senior G Darrel Mitchell summarized the Tigers' attitude toward the game. Thank God for this opportunity to be here. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to the Sweet 16 and to play Duke makes it even more significant. But this is my last go around, so I am real excited to be here and with us being dropped out of this opportunity the first three years I have been here, for me to get in my last season, I am sucking every moment in, and I am ready to go.
  • Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski was impressed with the Tigers. LSU is very good defensively. They can block shots first of all, so if you do break them down they have that last line of defense. Thomas has been terrific in that, but Davis takes up space, but it's not just his space because he has good feet so he can be a help defender also and their perimeter defense although it's young except for the Mitchell the senior G, plays well together knowing that they have the last line of defense so to speak, in those big kids, if they make any mistakes. ... They have the best record in the SEC; so they are very good.
  • Blue Devil F Shelden Williams relished his matchup with Glen Davis. He's an incredible player. Somebody for that size that moves so well as he does, it's just amazing to watch. I know it is going to be a very physical game and low post throughout the whole course of the game. I know we both are prepared for that and hopefully we'll play the game without any injuries going on and hopefully we come out on top.

The game proved that Coach K was wise to respect the LSU defense.

  • From the start, freshman Garrett Temple attached himself to Duke's sharpshooter J.J. Redick, who averaged 27.2 ppg coming into the contest and shot 42% beyond the arc.
  • Both teams struggled to score from the get-go. After seven minutes of play, the Blue Devils led 10-6. By that time, Tyrus Thomas had three blocks and Redick had made only one basket. Duke forced LSU to start its offense out high to expose the Tigers' biggest weakness - ballhandling. Darnell Lazare off the bench broke a 4 1/2 minute LSU scoring drought with a close-in basket, then immediately scored a runout bucket off a steal to tie the game.
  • LSU retook the lead on Temple's 3 at the 9:40 mark. Darrell Mitchell got his first basket to make it 15-12, but Davis picked up his second foul and sat down with 8:50 on the clock. Thomas joined him 40 seconds later when he charged on a fast break. That opened up the middle for Williams, who made a quick basket, but the Tigers continued a 17-4 run to make it 23-14 on Lazare's 7th and 8th points. At that point, Duke had eight turnovers to only seven baskets.
  • Despite aggressive and at times rough play, only one FT was shot in first 17 minutes.
    Krzyzewski had an ongoing and animated conversation with the officials, especially Bruce Hicks, who appeared to have the most hesitant whistle. Brady was not happy. Get him off the court! Get him off the court!

    Unhappy Coach K and calmer John Brady
    Both Icon Sportswire
  • Finally, with 1:28 on the clock, the Blue Devils, averaging 26 FTs per game, shot its first FTs. Due in large measure to LSU turnovers, Duke cut the score to 31-27 at the half. Still, Brady had to be happy because two key starters, Davis and Thomas, had spent most of the half on the bench and had only four points between them. Lazare took up some of the slack with 10 off the pine. Temple held Redick to 2-of-7.

Tyrus Thomas (12) defends J. J. Redick after he eludes Garrett Temple (14)
as Glen Davis (0) and Tasmin Mitchell (1) look on.

The second half brought more of the same - tough defense on both ends.

  • Within the first 29 seconds of the half, Williams blocked a Davis shot on one end, then forced Big Baby into his 3rd foul on the other. Before two minutes had elapsed, Thomas picked up his 3rd as well. Brady replaced Tyrus with Lazare but left Davis in, and the Tigers soon extended their lead to 35-29 thanks to holding Duke to 31% from the floor.

    Williams defends Davis.
  • With J.J. struggling at 2-for-10, Coach K took him out to have a talk with 13:38 on the clock. Leading 38-33, LSU immediately switched to a 2-3 zone for the next possession, which ended in a turnover and Redick's quick return. But with 12:10 remaining, Thomas committed his 4th foul on a put back. Davis replaced him and soon enticed Williams into his third foul.
  • An alley-oop to Josh McRoberts with 10:40 left finally tied the game at 40, and then a fast break lob to McRoberts finally gave Duke the lead with slightly over 10 minutes to go in the midst of a 13-3 run. At this point, LSU had shot only 3-for-16 in the half. Then the momentum got worse as Davis picked up his 4th on what CBS announcer Dick Enberg labeled a "ticky-tack" call with 8:47 left.
  • A crucial pair of events at opposite ends of the court finally changed the momentum back into LSU's favor. First, Redick had the ball for a rare open look at a 3-pointer. If he buries it, Duke leads by eight, and the Tigers may start to melt. But it rattled in and out. Then Darryl Mitchell drained a three to end LSU's drought. But the Tigers committed their 7th foul with 8:00 remaining. Then Williams committed his 4th 19 seconds later against Magnum Rolle. But the freshman missed both, making the Tigers 3-for-8 from the stripe. A sweet pass from Darryl to Thomas led to his first basket of the game on a stuff to make it 47-45 Blue Devils. Big Baby returned for the home stretch. Soon Tasmin broke open down the lane and took a neat pass for the tying basket at 5:37.
  • Tasmin scores again on a putback. 49-47 LSU
    Greg Paulus - two FTs. 49-49
    Thomas a putback slam. 51-49 LSU
    Coming off a pick, Redick finally hits another 3 at 3:35. 52-51 Duke but the Blue Devils would not sink another basket.
    Thomas makes one of two FTs. 52-52 (3:03)
    McRoberts commits a "freshman foul" on Davis who secured a defensive rebound with 2:32 to go. Glen connects on one of two. 53-52 (2:30)
    Trying to maneuver around Thomas, McRoberts steps on the baseline. Turnover Duke.
    Davis misses jump hook at 1:25.
    Tasmin knocks away a pass in the lane to Davis. Turnover Duke.
    Paulus fouls Thomas in a scramble for a rebound with 0:43 left. With LSU only 5-of-13 at the line, Tyrus sinks both. 55-52
    Darryl jumps in front of Redick coming off a pick. With a chance to cut into the lead with the clock stopped, the career 91% FT shooter makes both - amazingly, his first attempts of the night. 55-54 LSU (0:38)
    Thomas dribbles past midcourt pressure for a stuff. 57-54 LSU (0:34)
    Then Tyrus blocks Paulus's driving shot and Darryl grabs the rebound and is fouled.
    Darryl makes the first but misses the second only to have Davis grab the rebound and get fouled. (0:21)
    Big Baby makes the first, then clangs the second off the front rim. With all his teammates downcourt, Davis snags the rebound and draws another foul. 59-54 (0:19)
    Glen makes one of two. 60-54
    Redick misses yet again and LSU rebounds. (0:09)
    Davis cans two. The Tigers end the game on an 11-2 run.
    FINAL: LSU 62 DUKE 54

L: Coach K consoles his leading scorer.
R: Darrell Mitchell celebrates victory.
  • Davis and Darrel Mitchell with 14 apiece led the Tigers, who were fortunate to win despite shooting only 12-for-23 from the FT line.
  • Williams' 23 led all scorers and he tied Thomas with 13 rebounds. Redick totaled 11 but sank only 3-of-18 FGs, missing all nine 2-point tries. No other Blue Devil scored in double figures.
  • Brady: That may have been the best defensive effort I've seen in one of my teams.
  • Temple on stifling Redick: I was just trying to get a hand in his face and contest all his shots, or make him pass the ball back out. I'm a defensive player. This is what I live for.I watch a lot of film on him to see what he does to get open. So I tried not to let him feel me or see where I was. He could tell J.J. was getting frustrated. When he missed it, he was pretty upset. He was complaining to the referees about not calling fouls.
  • Krzyzewski: We could have had a better offensive game, there's no question about it. But LSU had a lot to do with that.
  • Red-eyed Redick on the dismal finale to his four-year college career: This definitely hurts. The last four years have been pretty amazing, and I didn't want that to end. ... He's long, and he played me physical.

Texas edged West Virginia 74-71 in the nightcap to see up an Elite Eight game Saturday, March 25 between the Tigers and Longhorns.

Continued below ...

Regional Final - Texas
The Cinderella Tigers found themselves in the Atlanta Regional Final against Texas.
  • #4 LSU had polished off #1 Duke two days earlier and now set their sights on the #2 Longhorns.
    Good omen for LSU? The last five teams that had beaten Duke in the Sweet Sixteen had also won their Elite Eight game.
  • Texas set up the matchup when Kenton Paulino canned a jumper from the left wing as the buzzer sounded to beat West Virginia 74-71. The Mountaineers had just tied the game with five seconds left.
  • The Tigers and Longhorns had not met since LSU won 72-67 in the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City.

Brady's Bunch still drew motivation from their perceived lack of respect for the SEC's regular season champion.

  • Darrel Mitchell recalled: We knew we could play with both Texas and Duke, but others didn’t give us a chance, because, "Who was little LSU playing against those Blue Devils and Longhorns?" That's where all of our motivation and push came from.
  • Tyrus Thomas, whose exuberance at the end of the Duke game had been replayed many times, said, We've got to go back to work. We knew when we woke up (Friday) morning, it was time to get back to work and prepare for Texas.
    Thomas had a sensational final 43 seconds against the Blue Devils. He hit two FTs, split and double team and broke a press with a slam dunk, then blocked PG Greg Paulus's floater in the lane. Tyrus stomped down the floor letting his emotions escape. I was making a statement to my mom more than anything out of excitement. She wanted to come to Jacksonville (last week), and we couldn't afford it. ... But she has a friend here (Atlanta), and I promised her that if she stopped crying that I'd get her a full weekend in Atlanta. I was just letting her know that I'd kept my promise.
  • The Tigers front line would have to compete with their Texas counterparts - 6-10 C LaMarcus Aldridge, 6-8 Brad Buckman, and verstable 6-5 P.J. Tucker. Thomas: They match up with us athletically, and they're great players. We're just going to try and come out and play great basketball like we've been playing. We're going to have to stay out of foul trouble. Glen "Big Baby" Davis added: It will be a battle. ... They are competitors. You can see how much they've grown as players. There is no doubt it will be a war.
  • Rick Barnes's regular season Big 12 co-champions liked to play a combination man-to-man and 2-3 zone scheme that had limited opponents to 59 ppg in the NCAA tournament.
  • The Tigers had also been stingy - just 58.3 ppg in the postseason. Coach John Brady: They mirror us in some ways. Some of the things we like to do, they do. ... It may be a case of which team can do what it does best for the longest period of time will have an opportunity to win the game.
  • Barnes said LSU posed a much different challenge from the spread-the-floor, perimeter-oriented teams his Longhorns had faced in the first three rounds of the tournament. They're a much more athletic team than what we've played, especially the last two or three games. Rick added, The guy I'm really impressed with is Darrel Mitchell. He's the guy who makes them go. He does a lot for them, creates a lot.

First half action

First half

  • LSU started slowly, falling behind 5-0. Garrett Temple's jumper put them on the board at the 18:20 mark, but Texas extended its lead to 9-2. CBS commentator Jay Bilas said the Tigers "look young" and not like the team that had conquered Duke. But the Tigers settled down and got into a rhythm offensively. They reeled off 10 straight points on three buckets by Glen Davis and two spectacular baskets by Tyrus Thomas - a slam back of a missed shot and an alley oop on a pass from Darrel Mitchell. After the Longhorns had gone nearly six minutes without a point, missing seven straight shots, A. J. Abrams sank a three to tie the score at 12.
    The lead changed hands five times in the next few minutes. Thomas jammed another alley oop, and Darrel got into the scoring column with a three. Texas regained the lead at 20-19 and didn't fall behind the rest of the half although they never led by more than three. A third slam by Tyrus and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Davis made it 24-24. After Ben Voogt's poor shot led to a UT breakaway basket, Darrel spoiled the Longhorns' plan to get the last shot by stealing the ball at midcourt and laying the ball in just before the buzzer.
    Aldridge struggled, going just 1-for-9 after an 8-for-8 first half against West Virginia.
    Tasmin Mitchell hadn't scored for the Tigers.
    LSU tried to force P.J. Tucker, the Big 12 Player of the Year, to give up the ball. He scored only four in the first half. Tasmin Mitchell: The plan was not to let him get good looks and stop him from driving. He's the heart of their team.

Three Tyrus Thomas slam dunks.

Davis vs Aldridge

Second half
  • The defensive clash continued. Neither team led by more than three points the entire 20 minutes.
    Texas led 33-32 at the first media timeout. But Davis scored underneath on a great assist by Tasmin Mitchell, and Thomas stole a pass and laid it in to put LSU ahead 36-33.
    But Daniel Gibson, quiet the entire tournament, came alive with a 3 to tie it again. With LSU hitting only 1-of-11 threes at that point, the triple was keeping the Longhorns in the game.
    Thomas hit a jumper, and Davis put back a rebound to give the Tigers their biggest lead of the game, 40-36, with 11 minutes to go. At that point Tyrus and Big Baby had accounted for 30 of LSU's 40 points on 15-of-21 shooting.
    The Bengals stayed in front until Gibson popped another 3 to tie the game at 43.
    Thomas responded with a bucket on a drive to make him 9-for-11 and put LSU in the lead again. Tyrus took a rest at the 7:40 mark. Could LSU maintain their advantage without him? The answer was yes.
    After the teams traded baskets, Tasmin Mitchell made his first fielder of the game, a trey, to give LSU a 50-45 advantage.
    After two FTs by Kenton Paulino, the Tigers got careless on consecutive possessions. First, Thomas made a careless pass that went out of bounds for LSU's 10th turnover to nine for the Longhorns. A Tucker basket cut the lead to one at the 2:15 mark. Then Temple took an ill-advised three, and Tasmin picked up his fourth foul trying to rebound.
    But Texas couldn't take advantage of that mistake, and Davis put in a basket from underneath with 0:01 on the shot clock to move LSU to a 52-49 edge.
    That ended quick when a scramble for the rebound after a missed UT shot ended with the ball in Gibson's hands beyond the arc. He sank a triple with 0:32 on the clock.
    Temple years later: One play in particular toward the end of the game, I knocked the ball away from Kent Paulino. Me and Darrel Mitchell chased the ball down, saved it in bounds to Texas. Kent Paulino shot a 3. I blocked it from behind right into Daniel Gibson's hands who shot a 3, and we ended up going overtime because of it.
    With several fouls to give, Texas waited until LSU made a move toward the goal to use one with 10.5 seconds remaining. Knowing the Longhorns would try that again, Davis took the inbounds pass and threw up a quick jumper. The fight for the rebound resulted in Davis getting the rebound and being fouled by Aldridge with 4.6 ticks remaining. Temple found himself open beyond the arc but his three missed. Overtime!
    Davis's 21 led all scorers while Gibson with 15 and Buckman with 11 topped the Longhorns.
    Brady: Starting the overtime in the huddle, I said, "Guys, you're going to win this game." There wasn't a doubt in my mind about it.

Tucker and Davis tangle for a loose ball.
  • The Tigers racked up seven straight to take control of the game.
    First, Tasmin scored on a short shot off the opening tap. 54-52 LSU
    Darrel knocked away a pass to cause a turnover. That led to a lay-in by Temple off a great pass from Tasmin. 56-52 LSU
    Tasmin stole a Buckman pass and Davis, finding himself unguarded at the top of the key, hit a three at the 2:59 mark. 59-52 LSU
    Temple: I remember seeing Glen hit a 3 at the top of the key to put us up seven in overtime. And I could hear one of the commentators say, "Glen Davis for 3?" Everything was just working for us then.
    Coach Barnes on the three: It was a big one.
    Reserve David Fleshman: We're all questioning (Davis). "What's he doing?" Then he makes it, and we're just like, "Great shot!"
    Davis, who had hit just 5-for-21 from beyond the arc: I was just in rhythm. I felt it was a great shot, and I made it. ... It's called thinking without thinking. That's what I call it. The opportunity was there to make the shot.
    Darrel Mitchell: When Glen hit that 3, that was the turning point. We took the intensity away from Texas right then and from that point on, it was our game to win.
    Tasmin on his key plays at the start of OT: That's just me being me. I wish I could've done more early in the game, but when it got to OT, I knew it was time to step up and do my job. What better time for us to play great.
    Harassed by Temple, Gibson shot an air ball to give possession to LSU. But Darrel missed a three, and Buckman was fouled on the rebound with 2:26 on the clock.
    Brad's two freebies finally put UT on the board in the extra period. 59-54 LSU
    Instead of milking some clock, Davis missed a jumper, and Texas rebounded.
    Buckman missed a shot, and the ball went out of bounds off UT with 1:49 showing.
    With Texas pressing up high, Thomas found a clear path to the goal and laid it in. 61-54 LSU
    A. J. Abrams missed a "panic shot." Thomas rebounded, then collapsed with cramps in both legs. Darnell Lazare replaced him.
    Finding himself face-guarded on the inbounds play, Darrel broke long and took the inbounds pass like a wide receiver. Gibson fouled him as he tried for a layup with 1:15 to go. The two FTs made it 63-54.
    Abrams tried another three, this one from the left corner, and swished it. 63-57
    Davis was fouled as soon as he received the inbounds pass. He missed the FT but got the rebound. (Analyst Bilas pointed out that the Tigers were the leading FT rebounding team in the nation.) Aldridge fouled Darrel who hit the FTs. 65-57 59.3
    Bockman missed a three, and Thomas was fouled on the rebound but missed the FT. Abrams missed a three, Tasmin gathering in the rebound and getting fouled. He made one of two. 66-57
    Tucker sank a three. 66-60 24.6
    Davis was fouled immediately and sank two. 68-60
    The Longhorns lost the ball out of bounds. Darrel was fouled on the inbound and converted both. 70-60
    After two missed threes, "Brady's Bunch" exploded in joy.
    FINAL: LSU 70 TEXAS 60
    Lazare: As a kid, you see March Madness on TV. You ask yourself, "I wonder what that experience is like?" When that buzzer goes off against Texas, and you're advancing to the Final Four, and you're getting a taste of what it's like, it's surreal. Everybody's celebrating.
    Brady: Even as a coach, you read about and see those type of situations and it passes quickly, but it's surreal while you're there. You try to cherish the moment. Glen was doing the second line dance with a boa around his neck, saying, "This is for Louisiana." Jim Nantz, who was on the call for CBS (actually, it was Dick Enberg), told me he'd never seen a celebration like that. Our players were so close and so loose that it was different, but Louisiana is a little bit different. We're going to celebrate in Louisiana a little different than they may celebrate in North Carolina. I was going to let the players be who they were. ... Those 48 hours in Atlanta, where you beat two top 10 teams in 48 hours was - and LSU's had some great moments in basketball - those 48 hours rival any moment in the history of LSU basketball.

Watch the video of the game...

John Brady and Glen Davis perform the ritual of cutting down the nets.
  • The Tigers won despite hitting only 3-of-18 from 3-point range and getting only 21 combined points from Darrel (11) and Tasmin Mitchell (6) and Garrett Temple (4). The three perimeter players shot 6-for-27.
  • But Davis and Thomas, who said afterward they considered each other "brothers from another mother," combined for 38 points in the paint compared to 10 for Texas.
  • Thomas, who was voted the regional's Most Outstanding Player: We battle for each other and sometimes we call each other soldiers. Soldiers never leave a man behind. Glen told me, "It's time to go to war." We both understood it was time to go to war, and it was time to fight. And when he fights, I fight. And when I fight, he fights, as well as the rest of the members of our team. It wasn't just us.
  • Temple on the Tiger D: We used more individual defense than team because they have more people that can score than Duke. We tried to k eep them from shooting in rhythm,make them drive the ball instead to where our shot-blockers were.
  • Darrel Mitchell: We've achieved a lot of our goals, and now we have one left. People didn't expect us to be here, and we've used that for motivation. Each and every night we gathered ourselves together and pulled through for one another.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge was limited to four points on 2-for-14 shooting.
  • Texas Coach Barnes on the overtime: We were trying to run the same action we had been running when we really tied the game up. We were trying to get Tucker isolated. We just didn't execute it. We didn't handle it the way we needed to. The credit should go to LSU because when the game was in doubt, they made the plays they needed to make, and we didn't. ...
    Big Baby was a tough matchup for LaMarcus. We wanted him
    (Aldridge) to get a deeper post-up so he could get over the top of him (Davis). But it's not just their inside defense. We tried to get movement with our perimeter guys and they did a good job of fighting through screens and being there on the catch.

To be continued ...

John Brady makes a point.

Davis scores underneath.

Thomas soars high.

Darrel Mitchell on the floor.

Garrett Temple and Bockman

Big Baby on the floor

Temple drives around Gibson.

Davis rebounds over Bockman.

Daniel Gibson

Tasmin Mitchell after sinking a 3

Davis vs Buckman

Loose ball scrum

Darrel Mitchell takes a jumper.

Davis-Aldridge battle from overhead.

Another Davis hook shot.

Temple and Thomas smother a Longhorn.

Davis vs Aldridge

Davis exults.

Season in Time: 2005-06 - VIII

Darrel Mitchell

Lorenzo Mata, with a face guard protecting his broken nose, defends Glen Davis.

Arron Aflalo grabs a rebound in first half.

Mata blocks Davis's shot.

Brady takes out Davis.

Luc Mbah a Moute dunks.

Davis and Hollins fight for rebound.

Ben Voogd guards Jordan Farmer

Davis calls time after grabbing loose ball.

Davis tries to get past Mata.

A strange phenomenon plagued the 2006 Tigers when they reached the Final Four in Indianapolis.
  • Darnell Lazare: When we played UCLA, that was the first time all tourna­ment, it seemed, people picked us to win the game. We prepared the same way, but because we weren't chasing - we were the ones being chased - it might have affected the way we came out. We might have let our emotions get too high, because we were experiencing some praise.
  • Garrett Temple: I remember going into the tournament, people were saying we might be the upset. We might lose to Iona in the first round. Going against Duke, nobody expected us to win. Texas, nobody expected us to win. So I think when we beat those teams like we did, I remember Michael Wilbon saying LSU was gonna beat UCLA. I remember watching that, vividly. Some of that crept into our minds.
  • David Fleshman: Our mindset was that we needed to go out and play a good game so we could get one back on Florida (which was in the other semifinal). They'd beaten us twice that year. Nothing in my mind projected we were going to get a lumping by UCLA.

John Brady's team (27-8) was not in awe of UCLA (31-6), which had won ten national titles in eleven years under John Wooden and another in 1995 on its last trip to the Final Four.

  • Glen Davis told the press in Indianapolis: They were so good before I was born. I respect their tradition, but it's a new era, a new time. You can't have fear. Bill Walton's not playing for them. Kareen Abdul-Jabbar's not playing no more. There's nothing to be worried about. They do have some great play­ers on their team, so you have to reespect them because they are here.
  • Tyrus Thomas dismissed any talk of pressure. We were talking about it earli­er. We don't even feel like we're in the Final Four. We're just here relaxing and taking this as just another challenge. I guess it's going to hit us on Monday after we win it all.
  • Brady was not so cocky. I think we're similar defensively, he said of the Bruins. I wouldn't expect a high-scoring game, but in the tournament, you never know. But he did add, From what I've seen of our team the last few days, I would be surprised if we don't play well. The key, he said, was which team would get the most out of its offense. We probably think the same in a lot of ways offensively. But the nature of UCLA and the makeup of them is a little different than mine. We're pretty good around the goal. Their strength is their two perimeter guards. I've watched enough tape to know how dangerous they can be.

Bruins' coach Ben Howland respected LSU much more than the Tigers seemed to respect his team.

  • LSU is so terrific. They block eight-plus shots per game. They're allowing their opponents 33 percent shooting from the field in the four tournament games they've played, which is incredible.
  • On Big Baby Davis: He's unbelievably wide and athletic ... has unbelievable feet. It's going to be a huge challenge.
  • On LSU's high-jumping F: Thomas is the Shawn Marion of college basket­ball. And Shawn Marion is the greatest athlete in all of the NBA.
  • Howland suffered a setback when 7' 1/2" 230 lb senoir C Ryan Hollins banged his right knee in practice Friday morning and skipped the afternoon shoot-around. To make matters worse, sophomore backup C Lorenzo Mata, 6'8" 235, suffered a broken nose for the second time that season on a loose-ball drill Wednesday.
  • The other Bruins on the inside were 6'7" freshman F Luc Richard Mbah a Moute from Cameroon and 6'8" backup C/F Alfred Aboya.
  • Except for Mbah a Moute, UCLA was like LSU - a team of local guys.

How would UCLA combat the Tigers' big front line?

  • Hollins: Hustle is big. That's a team effort. Everybody needs to hit the glass this game. Our guards need to get in there. Me and Luc need to box out well. Their whole team goes (to the glass) well, so we're going to need all the help we can get.
  • But as Brady said, the Bruins' real strength lay in their two guards, sopho­mores Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo. John paid them a compliment by saying they could start for anybody in the SEC.

The Bruins entered the Final Four on a 12-game winning streak, the longest in the nation.

  • NCAA Tournament Results:
    Belmont 78-44
    Alabama 62-59
    Gonzaga 73-71
    Memphis 50-45
  • During the streak, Gonzaga's 71 points were the most UCLA surrendered by 11. And in that game, the Bruins shut down the Zags in the last three minutes for an 11-0 run. Three opponents had scored less than 50.

L: John Brady; R: Ben Howland
First Half

  • Both teams started strong defensively. Big Baby missed a jumper, then hardly touched the ball the next four minutes. The Tigers made two of their first six shots, a follow by Darrel Mitchell and a baseline drive by Tyrus Thomas. Meanwhile, the Bruins got a 3 from Jordan Farmar and two putbacks to lead 9-4 at the 15:26 timeout.
    When play resumed, Arron Afflalo hit a three to make it 12-4 - LSU's largest deficit in the tournament. Unable to get the ball inside to Big Baby, the Tigers settled for perimeter shots. Finally, Glen canned his first basket at the 14:05 mark to break a 7-0 UCLA run.
    The Tigers continued to struggle against a team that exceeded their athleti­cism and went nine deep. With both Davis and Thomas taking a rest, the Bruins dominated inside. A steal and a stuff by Luc Mbah a Moute, the PAC-12 freshman of the year, made it 18-8, forcing Brady to call a timeout at the 12:25 mark.
    Davis returned and got the ball three straight possessions. Twice he was fouled before he could get off a shot, then he missed underneath.
    Brady after the game: I think our guys were a little taken aback because not only did they guard us well, when we did get an opportunity to score, we weren't able to score. I've never seen Glen Davis miss five or six gimmes around the goal. They got Glen rushing the basket.
    Thomas completed a three-point play to make it 20-11, but Farmar, having no problem shooting over the smaller Darrel Mitchell, sank another three. Glen finally hit a jumper and Darrel got a two-and-one after a UCLA basket to close the gap to 25-16. Brady tried the 2-3 zone that had been so effective against Auburn during the regular season.
    Play became sloppy for a few minutes as LSU turned the ball over three straight possessions, but UCLA couldn't capitalize thanks to their own mis­takes. When the Bruins rebounded a Tasmin Mitchell miss and roared downcourt for an easy bucket to make it 31-16 with 5:15 to go, Brady called timeout as Big Baby didn't get past the midline. At that point, Davis and Thomas were a combined 4-for-11 with Glen just 2-for-7 and one rebound.
    Davis: They came out and just punched us. We didn't recover from it. We were kind of shocked. We were down; we tried to get back, but nothing went right.
    : That's just the way we come and play defense. They don't do things they normally do. They're looking at each other, pointing fingers. Sometimes eyes get real big, like a deer in the headlights, like they don't know what hit 'em.
    Showing how deficient LSU's bench was compared to the Bruins', G Ben Voogd committed three straight turnovers. Despite their own careless play - each team had ten turnovers, UCLA extended their advantage to 33-17 as the Tigers went over five minutes without a FG. Tasmin's put back on a missed FT finally ended the FG drought after eight straight misses. It was LSU's first bucket off its offensive sets in nearly seven minutes.
    The Bruins more than held their own with only one starter on the floor. Second-string G Collison executed a neat spin move to sink his third basket just before the half ended. LSU sank no threes during the first 20 minutes and finished just 6-of-12 at the FT line. The 15-point deficit was their largest at halftime the entire season.
    11 turnovers had much to do with that. So did UCLA's 58.4% (14 of 24) FG shooting.
    Collison was one of three UCLA guards and an incredible six players alto­gether who would play in the NBA. In addition to Farmar and Afflalo, Mbah a Moute, Bozeman, and Hollins would go pro. Afflalo, Collison, Farmar, and Mbah a Moute were still playing during the 2017 season. By contrast, only three Tigers, Davis, Thomas, and Garrett Temple would don NBA uniforms and only Temple would still be active in '17.

L: One of Davis's least contested shots. R: Thomas and Darrel Mitchell defend against Darren Collison.

Davis vs. the Bruins

Hollins stuffs over Thomas.

Tasmin Mitchell heads downcourt.

Garrett Temple tries to grab the ball with Hollins looming.

Darrel Mitchell guards Collison.

Alfred Aboya guards Temple.

Darnell Lazare guards Mbah a Moute.

Darrel Mitchell struggles to score.

Thomas reaches in on Farmar.

Howland speaks to Davis at game's end.

Second Half
  • Down 15, the Tigers had to start strong. But the Bruins continued what TV commentator Billy Packer called their "great performance." On their first possession, all five players moved until Mbah a Moute broke loose on a back door cut underneath and stuffed a beautifully timed pass. After a Davis miss, another dunk made it 43-24. Having used three timeouts in the first half, Brady couldn't afford one, but he did signal to switch to the 2-3 zone. After Tasmin sank one of two FTs, a beautiful lob created still another flush, this one by Hollins, who had sat out most of the first half with two fouls.
    LSU got its first FG on a breakaway by Darrell, but Farmar responded with a long three as the shot clock wound down to make it 48-27 at the 15:52 mark.
    Darrel Mitchell on the start of the 2nd half: They hit us quick again. After that, we slowed them down, but we never could get it going offensively.
    Not a three-point shooting team (10th in the SEC), LSU had little hope of closing the gap significantly. With UCLA collapsing its defense, Davis continued his struggles, missing his first five shots.
    LSU didn't score its second basket until seven minutes had elapsed. 50-29. As in the first half, UCLA continued their great defense even with subs on the court. Davis's charge gave him his third foul with the score 55-31 and a little over nine minutes to play. He finally got a bucket and a FT a half minute later.
    With five minutes to play, LSU had a mere 35 points and was shooting only 28% from the floor.
    Packer praised the great effort Big Baby was making despite the frustrating results. Billy labeled the Bruins' performance as "the best basketball I've seen in the tournament."
    Dick Enberg, the play-by-play announcer, recalled the Katrina tragedy in the final minutes, praising the Tigers for bringing joy to Louisianians.
    Davis fouled out with 2:09 left. His final line: 14 points on 5-for-17 shooting and 7 rebounds. Shortly afterwards, Mbah a Moute got his fifth foul and retired with 17 points, tied for his high.
    Subs saw plenty of action on both sides as the game wound down. The final score didn't reflect the Bruins' dominance.
    FINAL: UCLA 59 LSU 45

L: Aboya rebounds in front of Magnum Rolle (15). R: Hollins stifles Thomas.

L: Tasmin Mitchell breaks up a pass; R: Farmar and Temple go for loose ball.

Sad Stats

  • LSU shot a season-low 32% (16 of 50) and was 0-for-6 from 3-point range.
  • They turned the ball over 15 times, although only four came in the second half - a reason why the Tigers outscored the Bruins 21-20 in the final 20 minutes.
  • LSU made just two baskets outside the paint the entire game, and one of those came in the first two minutes.


  • Brady: They got us back on our heels. There was a combination of guarding us well, then the shots we were able to get, we couldn't make them. We never were able to get any rhythm with the ball. ... When you're not making baskets from the field, the next thing you really need to do is get to the free throw line. We were fortunate enough to do that. However, the Tigers made of 13 of 28 from the FT stripe.
    Ten years later, Brady recalled: The first 10 or 12 minutes of the game, we looked like we were still in Atlanta enjoying the fruits of our victories there. I don't know if we ever actually let Atlanta go.
  • Davis: I didn't see this coming. I would never expect this from the kind of team we have, the character we have. But you never say never.
  • Asked to comment on the season, Thomas said: It was good. We made it to the Final Four, but that wasn't our ultimate destination, and we didn't reach that. But, with the exception of Darrel, we have another shot at it next year. Louisiana reporters took that statement as implying the redshirt freshman would return for the 2006-7 season. (He did not.)
  • Voogd: It was tough because we came in here with so many highs. ... To come out and not show up the one day we need to, that's what hurts the most.
  • Howland: The real tough part for me is we beat LSU. They have a great team, a very well-coached team. I really feel for all those people. We do as a community at UCLA as we do in ... the state of California, for all the Katrina victims. ... As happy as I am about winning, if we were to lose, I would want to lose to no other team than LSU, especially with everything the state of Louisiana has gone through this year. ... Tonight it was just our night. We didn't put the lid on the (LSU) FT shots. They don't miss 15 of 28 normally. They had some open shots, but they just continued to miss them. But that was the best defense we've played all year.
    Darrel Mitchell: The glue of the team was built with a bunch of Louisiana guys who loved one another like brothers. No one probably believed for one second we would have accomplished the things we did that year, but it was no surprise to me.
    Brady's final word after a decade to reflect: We didn't meet the challenge, but it didn't take away from what these guys accomplished. The special thing was where those guys were from and where they grew up. You can never take that away, that we did it with Louisiana players from Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, St. Martinville. It was something that adds a little lag­niappe. ... I don't know if that will ever be done again, to play at that level and achieve what they did with basically a Louisiana team. It was a special season.

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