3:00 PM ET, January 25, 2003
Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Mississippi
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Derrick Zimmerman expected LSU to make at least one second-half spurt. What caught Mississippi State off guard was that the Tigers' charge came in the final minute.Zimmerman sank two free throws with 9.5 seconds left as (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) Mississippi State survived a long field-goal drought and a frantic late rally by LSU to earn a 67-64 victory Saturday. The Tigers (12-5, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) were down 65-53 with 55 seconds left, and it looked like their third straight loss was a foregone conclusion. But Mississippi State (12-4, 2-3) got sloppy and couldn't make its free throws, while LSU started making 3-pointers from all angles. The Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 11-0 in a 44-second span, getting three straight 3s from Darrel Mitchell, Torris Bright and Ronald Dupree. A leaner by Dupree with 11.7 seconds left that made it 65-64. "Every team makes a run. Usually it comes a little earlier,'' said Zimmerman, who scored 10 points. "I think we kind of relaxed a bit.'' Zimmerman got friendly bounces on both of his free throws to up the lead to 67-64. Bright then dribbled down the court and behind a screen, but 6-foot-9 Mario Austin stepped out to put a hand in Bright's face and the long 3-pointer missed badly to the right of the basket. After Zimmerman missed two free throws with a little over a second left, Dupree's long heave from the backcourt came up well short. Dupree had 15 points despite foul trouble and Antonio Hudson had 12. Bright and Mitchell had 10 apiece. "We're happy we got the win,'' Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. "We're not happy with the way we played the last minute of the game.'' Michael Ignerski led the Bulldogs with 15 points, including the last two field goals they would make. Ignerski hit a baby hook in the lane and followed it moments later with a tip-in on the break to put Mississippi State up 63-49 with 5:42 left. Then the Bulldogs went cold and hung on. Austin had just eight points, 10 below his average, but his rugged defense helped shutdown LSU's second-leading scorer Jaime Lloreda. The 260-pound Austin kept the 246-pound Lloreda from getting good position in the low block, and got quick help from his teammates when Lloreda did get the ball in close. Lloreda, who scored 19 points against Mississippi State two weeks ago in an LSU victory, had only eight in the rematch. The officials took a let-em' play approach most of the game, letting the teams bang away at each other with few fouls being called. Austin and Lloreda went face-to-face after the whistle a couple of times. LSU coach John Brady wasn't happy with rough-and-tumble style. "I'm sore from watching that game,'' said Brady, who suggested he'd hit up Tigers football coach Nick Saban for helmets and shoulder pads before his next game. "Those guys are bigger than our guys and stronger than our guys,'' he said. Unlike recent games when the Bulldogs became dysfunctional when Austin wasn't scoring, Mississippi State's offense ran smoothly for the first 34 minutes with other players picking up the slack. Timmy Bowers had 10 of his 14 points in the first half as the Bulldogs built a 38-28 halftime lead. Winsome Frazier came off the bench to score 11. Hudson kept the Tigers close in the second half by scoring seven straight points, including a slashing drive he laid in high off the glass to make it 53-42 with about 12 minutes left. Hudson appeared all set to make it eight straight when Frazier made a remarkable defensive play. Hudson had a step on the field and went up for a one-handed slam, but Frazier took a perfect angle and made clean block that sent the home crowd into a frenzy.