Ole Miss Falls To No. 16 LSU, 97-53
Feb. 16, 2000
By RALPH D. RUSSO
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- It seems that every time LSU takes the court these days it does something the program hasn't been able to do in years.
Stromile Swift scored 18 points and Lamont Roland added 17 as No. 16 LSU cruised to a 97-53 victory over Mississippi on Wednesday night.
LSU (20-4, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) reached 20 wins for the first time since 1992-93, the last time LSU had a winning record and went to the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers' turnaround has been arguably the best in the country this season. LSU was just 12-15 last season.
"We knew we would be one of the better teams in the SEC if we came in and worked hard and did what the coaches told us," Swift said. "The only thing that could stop us was ourselves."
The win was LSU's fourth straight and seventh in its last eight games.
Brian Beshara scored 17 points for the Tigers, who shot 62 percent (31-for-50) from the field and 83 percent (30-for-36) from the free throw line.
"I think we are peaking at just the right time," Beshara said. "We struggled early in the SEC, but we corrected ourselves. Hopefully we're peaking. We played pretty well tonight."
Playing well away from home is also a huge step for the Tigers. LSU hadn't won consecutive road games since 1995.
"I don't know how to describe it," second-year LSU coach John Brady said. "It was the best I've ever had a team play, especially on the road."
LSU snapped an 18-game road losing streak 10 days ago with a 93-60 victory at Alabama.
After building a 20-point halftime lead, the Tigers ran away in the second half as their transition game and size overwhelmed Ole Miss (15-9, 3-8). The lead was up to 30 in less than five minutes.
"We have one of the best frontcourts in the SEC," Swift said of himself,
Beshara and Jabari Smith, LSU's second-leading scorer behind Swift, who had
just four points. "It's hard to match up with us. We're tough to defend."
LSU substituted freely in the second half, even playing walk-on Brandon Landry for the final six minutes.
Jermaine Williams scored 10 the 32 points LSU got from its reserves.
Torris Bright scored 11 points for LSU, including a 3-pointer with 11:19 left that made the lead 69-35.
Brad Bridgewater hit a short jumper with less than a minute left to give LSU a 46-point lead, its largest of the game.
Emmanuel Wade had 10 points for the Rebels, who shot 30 percent (19-for-63).
"We have to give LSU credit," Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said. "They played great defense on us. They played like a team hungry for wins."
LSU also snapped a seven-game losing streak against Ole Miss and a seven-game skid in Oxford. The Rebels had won nine of the last 11 meetings.
Swift said the Tigers were motivated by the past failures against Ole Miss, especially in Oxford, where the Rebels won by 22 last season.
"We wanted to come in here and prove that we weren't the same team that came in the past," he said.
On Sunday, LSU broke a 10-game losing streak to Kentucky with a 70-57 win at Baton Rouge, La.
It was the home worst loss for Ole Miss since 1965 when the Rebels lost 96-50 to Tennessee and their worst loss ever at Tad Smith Coliseum, which opened in 1966.
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