LSU win over UGA keeps Tigers perfect in SEC play

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 30, 2006

81-52 victory improves team to 5-0 in conference but still unranked nationally

BATON ROUGE — The talent-laden but still unranked LSU men’s basketball team entertained a sold-out Maravich Center on Wednesday night, building a 31-point halftime lead before mauling the Georgia Bulldogs, 81-52.

“Obviously, we knew their strengths were to pound it inside to their big guys, said Georgia Coach Dennis Felton. &#8220We allowed them to have wide-open shots. They are college players and they are going to make them. It stings a little bit because of the fact that we weren’t even in the game. Halfway through the first half, we were facing a huge deficit. It is disappointing that we played poorly but again it is one game.”

Both LSU and Georgia wore “throwback” jerseys, previewing the conference’s February and conference tournament promotion for the Tigers’ fans. LSU’s jerseys were replicas of the Pete Maravich era, the late 1960s.

The Tigers improved to 13-5 overall and 5-0 in SEC play for the first time the 1980-81 season. That year, LSU won 17-straight to open conference play.

LSU senior guard Darrel Mitchell led four Tigers in double figures scoring with 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting including 5-of-7 three-pointers.

Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas each had 13, while Tasmin Mitchell added 11.

“My main thing before the game was to come out and play a great first half because against Alabama I didn’t play well until the last 10 minutes, said Thomas. &#8220My main focus was just to come out hard and aggressively and get the crowd involved in the game because we sold out last week and this week and knew that if we got the crowd involved it would take a lot of stress off of us.”

For the first time since a reconfiguration of the Maravich Center seating, the arena was sold out (13,468).

Georgia’s Dave Bliss was the only Bulldog in double figures scoring with 12 points. Georgia shot only 31 percent from the field (21 of 67).

The Bulldogs fell to 12-7 overall and 2-4 in SEC play.

LSU dominated from the opening tip, taking a 15-2 lead on 6-of-9 shooting before Georgia was saved by a media timeout at the 15:45 mark of the half.

A Tasmin Mitchell three pointer coming out of the timeout increased the advantage to 18-2.

After making their first shot of game, the Bulldogs missed 14 straight before a Dave Bliss layup with 12:38 left in the half — a scoreless span of 6:20.

Georgia cut the LSU lead to 22-9 on a layup by Bliss, however, Darrel Mitchell hit a pair of three pointers to key a 10-4 run and push the lead to 32-13 with 7:26 on the first-half clock.

LSU continued to poor it on the Bulldogs as the half wore, building the difference to 31 at the half on an alley-oop from Darrel Mitchell to Thomas, a three-pointer by Darrel Mitchell and another break-away layup by the senior guard as the half ended.

The Tigers led 50-19 at the break.

“He told us to stay focused and just to go out there and execute,” said Mitchel. &#8220If you notice, he was still hollering every time we did something bad. He never really got out of the way of the score. He wanted us to get it done and execute on offense.”

The trends in LSU’s favor continued early in the second half, as the Tigers’ lead expanded and Georgia failed to score from anywhere outside the paint.

The highlight of the half may have been an off-the-dribble whipped behind-the-back pass from LSU reserve guard Ben Voogd to Darnell Lazare that brought the Retro crowd back to the days of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, for whom the arena is named.

The fast-break dunk gave LSU a 67-31 lead with 11:17 left.

Georgia would get no closer than the final margin of 29.

LSU returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 28, when the Tigers travel to Oxford to face Ole Miss at 2 p.m. CT. The game will not be televised, however, members of the Geaux Zone on can listen live beginning with the pregame radio show at 1:30 p.m.

“I thought the biggest thing tonight that we did, if anybody was here who watched that first 20 minutes we looked like a real basketball team for 20 minutes,” said coach Brady. &#8220That first 20 minutes was as good as I’ve had a team play. It was great. The crowd was wonderful. Our players, myself and our coaches are so appreciative that every ticket in the house was sold. I think the message that our team sent is we’ve got a nice basketball team that plays well together, likes one another, shares the ball. I thought the first 20 minutes from a defensive standpoint and an execution standpoint it was nice to watch from where I sit. I’m sure people in the stands enjoyed it also.”

“They are supremely gifted athletically,” said Felton. &#8220They have been since I have been in the league. LSU is traditionally very, very athletic. You have a guy like Glen Davis who is a freak athletically. You have a guy like (Tyrus) Thomas who is the same way. (Darrel) Mitchell is extremely quick and fast. You have a guy like Tasmin Mitchell. They are far more athletic than us going down the line. That was no surprise.”

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