Men's Hoops Drops OT Decision to Tennessee

LSU's three seniors were honored prior to the game.
LSU's three seniors were honored prior to the game.
Steve Franz
Matt Dunaway
Matt Dunaway

BATON ROUGE - Justin Hamilton poured in a team-leading 17 points to go along with nine rebounds, but the LSU men's basketball team lost a 74-69 overtime decision to Tennessee Wednesday at the Maravich Center.

Before the game, LSU (17-12, 7-8 SEC) honored its seniors Chris Bass, Storm Warren and Malcolm White.

Warren garnered eight points and eight rebounds, while White tacked on seven first half points to match his second-highest scoring output of the season. Bass chipped in two rebounds, one assist and one steal.

Hamilton eclipsed double figures for the sixth time in his last eight outings and finished one rebound shy of his fifth double-double of the season. Anthony Hickey chipped in all 12 of his points in the second half and overtime. He added three assists, three rebounds and a steal.

Johnny O'Bryant III tallied 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. It marked O'Bryant III's 10th double figure scoring performance of the season.

The game featured only a quartet of ties as LSU never trailed in regulation. However, Tennessee (17-13, 9-6 SEC) took its first lead on the opening basket of overtime, a Cameron Tatum triple from the right baseline.

Down 68-65 in the closing moments, LSU had an opportunity to draw even as Hamilton launched a three-pointer from the right wing off a pick-and-pop play. The ball bounced off the rim, and Tennessee's Trae Golden controlled the rebound. He knocked down both of his free throws and all six of his attempts at the charity stripe in the final 20 seconds to close out the 74-69 win.

With the setback, the Tigers dropped into a sixth place tie with Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the SEC race.

Tennessee was fueled by Jarnell Stokes' 18 points on a crisp 9-of-10 shooting. He also pulled down seven rebounds and collected two steals.

Trae Golden and Jeronne Maymon notched 14 points each, including a combined 17-for-19 effort at the foul line. The duo struck for 25 of their 28 points during the second half and extra session.

Tennessee doubled up LSU in the paint, 32-16. The Volunteers also connected on 19-of-22 at the free throw line in the second half and overtime.

LSU started strong and buried 13-of-25 from the floor during the first half. The Tigers also held an 18-8 advantage on the glass and forced Tennessee into nine opening stanza miscues.

Ahead 15-11 at the 11:27 mark of the opening half, LSU seized control and ran off 16 of the next 21 points over the next 6:34. The Volunteers were held to only two field goals during the stretch. White led the way with five points, and the run was highlighted by a Warren second chance, two-handed dunk.

Tennessee responded with an 8-2 spurt of its own, but Hamilton stopped by the momentum with a hook shot at the buzzer to send LSU to the locker room with a 35-24 advantage.

The Volunteers continued their charge with 11 of the first 13 points of the second half and pulled back to 37-35 on a Stokes jumper with 16:03 remaining.

LSU fired back and grabbed a 50-43 advantage seven minutes later on a Hickey triple. Golden and Maymon knocked down four free throws to bring the Volunteers back to within one possession, 50-47, at the 8:58 mark.

Tennessee caught the Tigers at 57-57 on a Stokes jumper with 3:56 to go. On the next possession, Hickey canned another triple, this one from the right wing, to put LSU back ahead 60-57.

With the score tied at 60-60, both teams had an opportunity to win in regulation. Maymon's shot in the paint was blocked by Hamilton with 10 seconds left. After a timeout, Hickey drove coast-to-coast, but his 10-foot runner in traffic was short.

LSU wraps up the regular season Saturday at Auburn. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m., and the game will be televised on CBS.

The LSU Sports Radio Network also will broadcast the game on 100.7 FM (The Tiger) in the Baton Rouge area. Jim Hawthorne, Kevin Ford and Ricky Blanton will call the action.

The Tigers will begin SEC Tournament action on March 8 at New Orleans Arena.


Opening Statement...
"That's painful. I thought we had great energy. I thought we played a really good first half. One of the things going into this game that I talked to the group about was being able to sustain for 35-40 minutes because obviously Tennessee has a level of physical and mental toughness that has been impressive all year long. We had a lot of opportunities. When I say we had a lot of opportunities, we had a lot of shots that didn't go down for us. I am not talking about Anthony's (Hickey) runner (at the end of regulation) or prior to that Andre (Stringer) had a short mid-range jump shot. It is a tough loss. We played well, we just didn't make plays. We didn't make baskets down the stretch and sometimes it happens like that. Defensively, we had a hard time guarding them in the post because we gambled. When you gamble on a kid like (Jeronne) Maymon and then (Jarnell) Stokes, who I have been very impressed with (all season). In the second half, he gets an easy put back as opposed to making sure we are tough and we put a body on him, he gets his confidence going. He's 9 out of 10 and Maymon was everything he should be down the stretch. That was a lot of our doing, a lot of their doing. Anyway, it was tough for these seniors to go out like that on Senior Night, but that was a tough loss. It was probably about the toughest loss we have had all year."


On Tennessee's second half adjustments ...
"After that dunk in the second half, they made transition passes. We slacked on the defensive end. Defense wins, and we starting slacking toward the end. They started knocking down shots."


On finishing the season ...
"Don't lose focus just because these last two slipped away from us because of the mistakes we made. The season's still here. We still have to stay focused. Just pretty much stay focused and not seem like it's a losing hope in any possible way."

On his last home game ...
"I would've loved to definitely have that win under my belt for my last home game. I mean, it hurts a little bit. I don't know, it's hard to put that into words."


On close games ...
"This year, we had a lot of tough games. We've been in a lot of them. We just have to finish them. We've been doing a lot of good things in practice. We just need to carry them over into the game."

On Tennessee's second half adjustments ...
"They went at us in the second half. I think they were in foul trouble in the first half. They started doing a lot of different counters to get their big guys the ball. They got a lot of touch shots. On defense, they just starting switching a little bit, and they were rotating pretty well."

Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin
February 29, 2012

Opening Statement
"I thought it was a great, great victory for our players and our program. I thought our staff did a great job of really putting together a great game plan to try to win this ballgame. It was a physical game. Their big guys can shoot it. The guards really attacked the rim. I thought we did a great job of accepting the challenge, making the adjustments in the second half and finishing strong in overtime. Jarnell (Stokes) played a great game for us. Played big. I really challenged our big guys in the second half to step up. I thought Jarnell really came up big. Yemi (Makanjuola) had five fouls, but I thought he did a good job of managing the paint, being physical, making big shots and he had a big dunk. Jeronne (Maymon) was good. Trae (Golden) made big free throws late in the game. It was just a great, great win for our program."

On what he told his team during halftime regarding rebounding ...
"It was a couple of things. We didn't have an offensive rebound or shoot a free throw in the whole first half. So our big guys accepted the challenge. They did a great job of coming in the second half and getting us the W."

On the play of Jarnell Stokes
"He's a very talented young man. He's really just scratching the surface. He's finding his way, learning a new system, going against great and talented SEC players. It's not an easy thing, but he's doing a great job of accepting the challenge and embracing what we're trying to teach."

On trying to get into the NCAA Tournament
"I said it when we played Florida at home the first time. I said we were an NCAA Tournament team at that point, and I still feel like we're an NCAA Tournament team. We got to do our job and do our part, but I think we're an NCAA Tournament team."


On Being Down in the First Half ...
"We worked really hard every time we had the ball. We just kept telling ourselves that this was our game. We just needed to make runs."

On Tennessee's Outlook Before the Game...
"It was a must-win for us. The atmosphere was loud. Coach [Martin] always said that ball players like playing in this kind of atmosphere."

On Jarnell Stokes Stepping Up in Tonight's Game ...
"When Jarnell was in trouble, we kept telling him that he needed to step up for us to win. He made a huge shot in the second half. That is just something big for someone who is only 18."

On the Mental and Emotional State of the Team After the Win Against LSU ...
"Emotions are high, but we are just taking everything one day at a time. We are going to live this one out and then start worrying about tomorrow."




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