LSU 76, No. 22 Tennessee 67, OT
ATLANTA (AP)—LSU’s “Big Baby” turned into a beast, and suddenly the Tigers played like their 2006 Final Four team.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis scored seven of his 25 points in overtime as Louisiana State overcame a late-game charging call to beat No. 22 Tennessee 76-67 in the first round of the SEC tournament.
Davis, returning from an injury, made his first start in three weeks and gained momentum through the game. He scored 22 of his points after the first half and 15 rebounds.
“You’ve got to turn into a beast, and that’s what I did,” Davis said.
“I just envisioned a win … and now we play tomorrow, and you’ll see the beast again.”
Davis was constantly swarmed by Tennessee defenders and had his nose bloodied on one foul. But he played 40 minutes and made 13 of 17 free throws to lead the Tigers.
“He wanted to do something tonight and I think it showed people that he is an excellent player and maybe the best player in the league on a given night,” LSU coach John Brady said.
“I was proud of him, really proud, and this was great for his confidence.”
Davis scored on a three-point play with 1:55 left that gave the Tigers a 71-67 lead and added three free throws in the final 37 seconds.
LSU (17-14) won the 2006 Atlanta Regional to advance to the Final Four, but this year needs to win the conference tournament to make the NCAA field.
Terry Martin scored 15 points as LSU extended Tennessee’s long run of frustration in the SEC tournament. Since losing in the championship game in 1991, Tennessee (22-10) is 7-16 in the SEC tournament and has not advanced past the second round. This year, despite their Top 25 ranking, the Vols didn’t even make it to the second round.
“When you get to March and it’s tournament time you’ve got to be special and we didn’t have it tonight,” Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said.
“We didn’t execute very well and we weren’t sharp, and you’re just not going to beat a team as talented as LSU like that,” he said. “… We feel just terrible about it.”
A basket by Garrett Temple with 21 seconds left in regulation gave LSU a 64-61 lead. Tennessee’s Ramar Smith made one free throw with 17 seconds remaining, and the rebound on a miss went to the Vols. Chris Lofton’s tip-in basket tied the game at 64 with 12 seconds left.
With 7.3 seconds left, Temple was called for a charge on Smith as he scored. TV replays indicated Smith was moving when contact was made, and Brady vehemently argued the call.
“I really flashed in my head the basket is good and we’re going to win— game, set and match,” Brady said. “Then all of a sudden I saw the charge call.”
JaJuan Smith’s last-second shot for Tennessee was off, sending the game to overtime.
Lofton led Tennessee with 21 points. Duke Crews added 11 points and Ramar Smith had 10.
LSU will face Mississippi in a quarterfinal Friday night.
Davis returned from a strained right quadriceps and made his first start since Feb. 17. He was swarmed by LSU’s defense when he had the ball near the basket.
Davis attempted only three shots and had only three points in the first half as Tennessee led 27-25 at the break.
Lofton had 10 points in the half, including the first seven of the game.
Tempers flared with 4:05 left in the half when Tennessee’s Ryan Childress fouled Darnell Lazare. Childress appeared to throw an elbow as the two were entangled, but the brief encounter ended with only glares and a few sharp words.
The Vols were held without a field goal for the first 4 minutes of the second half as LSU pulled ahead 33-28. A basket by Joss Tabb ended the Tennessee drought, sparking a quick 9-0 run that included 3-point baskets by Childress and Ramar Smith.
Tennessee led 37-33 at the end of the run, but couldn’t pull away. There were four ties in the next 5 minutes.