Sanders Buzzer Beater Sinks LSU 71-70
"I knew it was good when it left my hand," said Sanders after hitting a game-winning 17-foot jumper with less than a second remaining. "It's a big win for us, but we're still not satisfied."
The win pushed Ole Miss (17-8, 6-5) into sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division and extended a four-game winning streak. The Rebels improved to 13-1 at home and snapped a six-game losing streak to LSU.
"We told Clay (Sanders) that he would have to win the game for us and that's what he did," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "Todd (Abernethy) was solid with the ball once again and had a double-double."
Todd Abernethy scored 12 points and added a career-high 11 assists for the Rebels, including the decisive assist to Sanders. The game-winning shot capped a rally in which Ole Miss trailed the final nine minutes until the buzzer beater.
"Honestly, when you look at the stats, it's a game we should've lost," Abernethy said. "Then we get a chance at the end and make a play to win. It's really hard to believe."
LSU (14-11, 3-8), led by Glen Davis with 26 points and 11 rebounds, shot 61 percent from the field, 28-of-46 and decisively outrebounded the Rebels, 37-23. The Tigers were done in by 16 turnovers, including one on the final play.
The Tigers had a 70-69 lead with 13.9 seconds left and inbounded the ball to run out the clock. An errant pass was picked off by Brian Smith of the Rebels, who quickly found Abernethy in the frontcourt.
"I was thinking don't rush the shot and make sure we get a good look," Abernethy said. "I wasn't thinking about finding Clarence, but he popped open and I knew he could hit that shot."
The Tigers had a final opportunity, but the inbounds pass was knocked away at midcourt by Smith to preserve the win.
"The difference in a significant team and an ok' team is the ability to win close games," LSU coach John Brady said. "We are 1-6 in close games this year. Our team deserved to win the game. We didn't do it. That's where we are right now."
Darnell Lazare scored 22 points and Tasmin Mitchell added 11 for the Tigers, who have dropped seven of the last eight starts.
The Rebels, according to Kennedy, still have loftier goals despite being picked last in the Western Division in the preseason media poll.
"I don't want to put a ceiling on what we can accomplish for the rest of the season, Kennedy said. "Our guys believe in themselves right now."
Sanders confirmed that belief.
"Going into this game we thought four wins would make it tough to be caught," Sanders said. "But we're not thinking that way any more. We're hungry for all of them."
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