BATON ROUGE - The 21st-ranked Virginia Cavaliers used a couple of late threes and a 6-2 finish in the final two minutes to halt LSU's seven-game win streak by a score of 57-52 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Monday night.
The Tigers finish the non-conference schedule at 10-4 heading into SEC play at home Saturday against Ole Miss. Virginia is now 13-1 on the year.
The two teams lived up to their advance billing of playing tight defense as neither team was able to make a big run in the game as Virginia had a first-half lead of seven points and the Tigers had a five-point advantage with 11:02 in the second half. In all the score was tied nine times with 12 lead changes.
Sammy Zeglinski scored 17 points, including a big 3-pointer late in the game for Virginia, as Joe Harris added 14 points.
With Virginia holding a one-point advantage, Zeglinski made his fourth 3 of the game to put the Cavaliers on top 51-47 with 3:25 remaining. A 3-pointer by freshman point guard Anthony Hickey again reduced Virginia's lead to a single point before Harris made his 3-pointer with 1:30 left.
The Tigers cut their deficit in half at 54-52 on a field goal by Justin Hamilton with 51 seconds remaining. LSU got the ball back when Ralston Turner blocked a shot by Harris and Hamilton grabbed the ball. However, the Tigers immediately lost the ball back to Virginia. LSU would have an opportunity in the final 15 seconds down three to tie the game, but Turner missed a three and the Cavaliers got two free throws for the final margin.
Hamilton had a career high 21 points for the Tigers, hitting 9-of-14 field goals as the only player in double figures for LSU. Hamilton also had nine rebounds for the Tigers, who were out rebounded, 32-26. LSU had 16 turnovers in the game and shot 43.8 percent from the field (21-of-48). LSU made just 5-of-18 three pointers while Virginia hit 6-of-10 treys.
Andre Stringer played for the first time since fainting in a practice prior to the Dec. 10 Boise State game and scored eight points in 24 minutes, hitting two treys.
Saturday's league opener at the Maravich Center is set for 12:45 and will be televised on the over-the-air SEC Network. Tickets are on sale at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office and at LSUtix.net.
Head Coach Trent Johnson
Opening Statement ...
"Not to take anything away from Virginia, but we had way too many break defensively down the stretch. Losing (Joe) Harris and losing (Sammy) Zeglinski in end line OBs and open jump shots cost us. We talked about how a basketball team like this is very solid, very sound, and very well coached. If you are not disciplined defensively then you do not close out the shooters and they will make you pay. I thought Justin (Hamilton) was very good just in terms of his ability to establish a post presence and be aggressive. Virginia is a good basketball team, but getting out rebounded like this and having 16 turnovers. The way the game was started when we ran a special for Ralston (Turner) and he caught it and it just bounced off of his foot was pretty indicative of how we played at the one end of the floor. We have to get it behind us and we will come out tomorrow around 3:30pm and watch video of this game and then move forward to Ole Miss, but again I would have liked to play better at both ends of the floor just in terms of how we did not take care of the ball, did not rebound, and how we lost key players. Johnny (O'Bryant III) and Storm (Warren) did a very good job on (Mike) Scott. For him to have 12 points, nine rebounds is a great effort on their part. Virginia is a good basketball team though."
How Virginia got open for late key shots
"Starting with (Joe) Harris, it was just a situation where the shot clock was running down and Ralston (Turner) should have never been off of him. With Ralston (Turner) and Andre (Stringer) going down to stretch their post and to be out of help was one three where Ralston (Turner) was in a bad position and he knows better. (Sammy) Zeglinski hit an end line OB, which was basically like a grade school play where 'Dre just was relaxed and then there was another end line OB where (Virginia) just threw it to the corner and he was wide open. So basically what I am saying is it was just a mental break down on our part of not seeing ball, of not seeing man. There was no special play ran. What I mean by that is we got them into a late shot situation, and then without looking at the tape those are the three plays that stick out the most. Then I have to believe, when we went up three, Anthony (Hickey) lost (Sammy) Zeglinski on a switch, which we do not switch, and he hit another three. Those are the four baskets that stick out the most to me that I am very aware of. Not that it is good or bad, they know, the players know and that is what disturbs them the most. We were in a situation where we had an opportunity; we just had some breakdowns. It is a team thing and it needs to get corrected and we will correct it and we'll move forward."
Conversation at last time out ...
"Usually when we call a free throw line run it and we told them down three we were going to flatten the floor and that put our high post where our post guy for an on ball and just dribble weave it with the three perimeters. Anthony (Hickey) did a good job. Andre (Stringer) could have taken his guy down and come up higher, but regardless Ralston (Turner) came off of it and got a good look and just did not go down. Our overall execution is 50 percent of the time okay, but you can't beat good teams and good players when it is just 50 percent of the time. But they know that."
On the final 40 seconds of the game
"Credit Virginia. They took advantage of our mistakes. We left some wide-open shooters and we just didn't execute the way we wanted to. They are a great team and they did the right things."
On if foul trouble kept him from getting into a rhythm
"It's definitely hard to get in a rhythm when you've been sitting for that long. But that being said, I didn't have a problem with it. I was ready the whole game. And I knew there was going to come a point in time where I was going to get an opportunity again."
On what happened on turnover with 20 seconds left
"I got the rebound and I pivoted and I turned right into his arm and lost the ball."
On if he is going to see the miss to tie the game in his sleep
"Yeah, but it's over now. We have Ole Miss next and we're going to put this behind us."
On getting back on the court
"It was great to get back and I felt great out there, but obviously, it doesn't feel really good right now. Coming off a loss, but it felt good to be back."
On his fitness level after being out
"I was a little winded here and there. That's the reason I couldn't play too long. Moving forward, I'm going to keep conditioning and keep practicing. I'm sure I'll be fine."
On when he found out he was going to play
"He (Coach Johnson) told me earlier this morning. He said he felt good about and, of course, I did. My family did too. The doctor said I was good to play, so I suited up."
On facing a bigger team
"It was good. I like playing against bigger guys and so it was a good matchup. They have some really good bigs and so it was a battle."
On the non-conference schedule as a whole
"Non-conference as a whole, we're sitting at 10-4. We've had some good wins and, for the most part with the exception of tonight, we've done a good job of getting better. With that being said, it's a new season now and to get to where we want to get to we're going to have to play better."
Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett
"It was a real physical game and there were certain times when guys needed rest. We didn't have a lot of options and we are limited to our nine guys on scholarship. I was trying to read if I could give a guy a break and who could give us a lift, Akil (Mitchell) gave us a lift early. You would like to have more balance scoring wise but there was a situation where guys needed rest and go out there and hold their own defensively and buy some time or push it ahead."
On Joe Harris's three...
"Joe (Harris) hit a couple of big threes for us, we needed that. When it gets to that point in the game it comes down to making a play, whether it is making a contested shot or getting a big rebound. Down the stretch most of the guys made big plays. I was proud of Joe on how he knocked them down. Assane (Sene) struggled a bit early but poked the ball away. It takes everything on the road and we are not going to blow you away. I can go through each guy Sammy's (Zeglinski) three, Joe's three and Assane making a hustle play. That is the stuff you need to come out victorious against a good team. They are a well-coached team."
On the pace of the game...
"You try to impose your will on teams. I am familiar with Trent's (Johnson) coaching and how they play. It was going to be physical and you could see that from the beginning. Baskets were going to be hard to get. We did a good job on the glass and that was important. When that is the case there is a level of patience and poise that is required. You are not going to be able to come down one side touch and break a team like that down. I thought we made some errors in the first half but when we were patient it let Mike (Scott) get settled in, get more touches and run our offense through him. We knew that we were going to have to work for it. We knew it was going to be a grinder and we embraced that and fought it out to the last possession.
UVA Senior Forward Mike Scott
On the game ...
"It was a very physical game. They are a similar team to us and this game was a difficult test for us. I felt this game was like the start of ACC play. LSU play good defense and have physical bigs, so it was a tough game."
On playing against LSU center Justin Hamilton ...
"It was challenging to create space off a shot against him. He is very talented, and he has a big body, so the only thing I could do was try to contest most of his shots."
Senior Guard Sammy Zeglinski
On the game ...
"Everybody did their role tonight. We did a great job on the defensive end. They were difficult to handle down low because they are a very physical team. I thought we battled for 40 minutes. We just made a few big shots at the end, so we were fortunate tonight."
On making a free throw down the stretch ...
"Making one of two shots was important. I wish I would have made the second one as well. I think I just need to get to the line in practice. Confidence-wise, being a leader on the team, you need to make big free throws at the end of the game.
Sophomore Guard Joe Harris ...
On having something to prove coming into this game ...
"We felt we under-performed a bit in the last three games we played, so it is a huge lift for us to come away with a win against a quality opponent like LSU."
On Zeglinski's clutch shooting ...
"Sam has been there and done that. He has had such a good career here. I have seen him hit big shots, so tonight was not any different. You can count on Sam to step up in crunch time."