Rebels Battle, But Fall Short
March 4, 2000
By MARY FOSTER
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - For a team with so much riding on a victory, LSU had a lot of trouble finishing off Mississippi.
Only after Collis Temple III fought his way through heavy traffic to get a rebound with 30 seconds left and Lamont Roland hit two free throws with 24 seconds remaining could No. 12 LSU be sure of clinching a 64-60 victory over Mississippi on Saturday.
"I knew when I got into the game that I had to make some contributions," Temple said. "Ole Miss played us extremely tough the entire game. They reacted to the way we beat them earlier like they were supposed to."
The victory, the Tigers' ninth straight in the conference, gave LSU (25-4, 12-4 Southeastern Conference) a share of the SEC title for the first time since 1990-91. It also sent the LSU fans to the floor to celebrate and the LSU players to the basket to cut it down.
"It was a great view from up on that ladder," LSU coach John Brady said. "I want to do it five more times, 10 more. I want to do it again next year."
LSU became the first school since the SEC started divisional play in 1991 to finish last one year and win the division title the next. LSU clinched the SEC West Wednesday night.
The Tigers, 4-12 last year in the SEC, went from 11th in the 12-team league to co-champion this year.
"This has been like a storybook season," said Jabari Smith. "I'm just glad we were able to put a happy ending on it. This is the first time in my life that I cut down the nets."
LSU was leading 60-55 with 2:54 remaining, but Jason Harrison hit a 3-point goal with 2:20 left to cut the lead to 60-58. LSU's Smith made two free throws to pad the Tigers' lead to 62-58 with 2:01 left.
Jason Flanigan hit two free throws to move Mississippi to within 62-60 with
1:47 remaining. Temple's rebound with time running out gave LSU possession and
forced Mississippi to foul Roland, who gave LSU an insurance lead as time ran
"I thought our kids came and really battled a good basketball team," said Mississippi coach Rod Barnes. "LSU is awfully good and awfully talented."
After trailing by as much as 14 points in the first half, Mississippi (17-12, 5-11) outscored LSU 17-7 in the first 7:48 of the second half. The Rebels took the lead for the first time on a 3-point basket by Jason Harrison with 12:22 left.
After losing by 44 points in the first meeting, Mississippi was intent on slowing LSU's big men, Smith and Stromile Swift. That made it a rough game - Swift, Smith and Mississippi's Rahim Lockhart all had four fouls early in the second half.
"I don't think we respected them the way we should," Smith said. "We beat them so bad at their place, I think we just sort of took winning for granted."
With the SEC tournament and the NCAA tournaments coming up, Roland said LSU got a lesson along with a victory.
"I think we underestimated them after beating them the way we did and knowing how good we usually play at home," Roland said. "With the tournament coming up, this was definitely a lesson not to take anyone for granted."
Roland led LSU with 16 points, Smith and Torris Bright each had 11 and Brian Beshera scored 10. Swift was held to just nine points but had three blocks, including he slammed into the stands.
Flanigan led Mississippi with 14 points and Harrison had 12.
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