MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP)—Darel Mitchell made sure not to be bothered by a little extra defense when he took the most important shot of the game.
Mitchell scored a game-high 26 points, including the final 3-pointers in regulation and overtime. The latter swished through on a highly contested shot from deep in the corner with 5.3 seconds left to give LSU a 71-68 win over No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday.
“I kind of knew when I let it go that it was going to hit,” Mitchell said. “A guy got his hand up, but it didn’t affect me.”
The winning shot was Mitchell’s fifth 3-pointer of the game. LSU (3-0) made six total.
“If he was off-balance, I hope he keeps shooting that way,” LSU coach John Brady said.
With five seniors—four starting—the Mountaineers (2-3) were expected to build upon their first trip to the final eight of NCAA tournament since 1959.
Instead, West Virginia lost its third consecutive nonconference game for the first time in 25 years.
“It’s been a long time since we lost three in a row,” West Virginia coach John Beilein said. “It’s hard to bounce back, but it’s my job to get these guys to do that.”
Mitchell and 310-pound forward Glenn Davis sliced through West Virginia’s defense and hit more than 50 percent of their shots from the field.
Glen Davis had 23 points—six in overtime—and 14 rebounds for LSU.
“We broke down the pros and cons of West Virginia, and that’s one of their weaknesses,” Davis said. “They were not a good rebounding team. We took advantage.”
Davis easily controlled the inside game for his 13th career double-double. No other player finished in double figures for the Tigers.
After Mitchell’s go-ahead 3-pointer, LSU fouled J.D Collins, who missed a free throw. The rebound was tipped out to Pat Beilein, whose 3-point attempt hit off the backboard and rim as time expired.
The Tigers led the entire game until Joe Herber’s 3-pointer with 4:56 remaining in regulation put West Virginia ahead 57-56. The teams finished regulation tied at 62.
The Mountaineers were led by Mike Gansey’s 25 points. He hit seven of 11 3-point attempts, both career-highs. Beilein added 15 points.
The game was played before the first November sellout crowd in the 35-year history of the 14,000-seat Coliseum.
West Virginia retired Jerry West’s No. 44 during the game. West, the model for the NBA logo, led the Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA finals. West was selected as one of the NBA’s top 50 all-time players and won an Olympic gold medal. He still holds 19 West Virginia records, including scoring per game, per season and total all-time scoring and rebounds.
A unanimous All-America selection in 1959 and 1960, West and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979.
“I’m sorry to West Virginia for being a distraction,” West said after the halftime ceremony, at which point LSU was up 37-27.