Saturday , Mar , 25 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Oh baby! Davis leads LSU to Final Four

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – Glen Davis recorded 26 points, Tyrus Thomas
scored 21 along with 13 rebounds and Louisiana State advanced to its first
Final Four in 20 years with a 70-60 overtime victory over Texas in the
championship game of the Atlanta Regional of the NCAA Tournament.

Davis added nine rebounds and a daunting interior presence on both ends of
the floor to lead the fourth-seeded Tigers (27-8) to their first
national semifinal since LSU made it as a No. 11 seed in 1986.

Led by the burly Davis and the high-flying Thomas, LSU’s defense stymied the
Longhorns all night long. Texas shot 30 percent from the field for the
game and received little offense from the inside.

“There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it, I mean they played great D,” said
Texas forward Brad Buckman.

Longhorns’ standout center LaMarcus Aldridge finished with just four points
on 2-of-14 shooting and the Longhorns were outscored 38-10 by the Tigers in
the paint.

“Defensively that was a key for us, because you saw the game (Aldridge) had
the night before last,” said LSU head coach John Brady in reference to
Aldridge’s 26-point, 13-rebound performance against West Virginia. “And we
knew if he did that against us, we had no chance to win the game. So you’ve
got to compliment Glen specifically and Tyrus Thomas as an assist in the way
we defended him today.”

Daniel Gibson led second-seeded Texas (30-7), which was attempting to reach
the Final Four for the second time in four years, with 15 points. Buckman
contributed 13 points and 14 rebounds while P.J. Tucker amassed 10 points and
13 boards.

Gibson sent the game into extra minutes with a clutch three-pointer with 32.1
seconds in regulation that tied things at 52-52.

However, LSU scored the first seven points of the overtime period, capped by a
beyond-the-arc basket by Davis, and the Longhorns never recovered.

“We all thought that we were going to win the game,” said Brady. It didn’t
matter what had happened to that point, all we needed was five minutes and we
were going to have an opportunity to play for a national championship or keep
playing for a national championship. And I thought the overtime we just played

Texas turned the ball over on its first two possessions of OT and didn’t make
a field goal during the session until A.J. Abrams hit a baseline three-pointer
with 1:08 to go. That basket pulled the ‘Horns within 63-57.

Davis was then fouled immediately and missed the front end of a one-and-one,
but the big center was able to get his own rebound and Texas was forced to
send Darrel Mitchell to the line. Mitchell hit both shots to extend the lead
to a comfortable eight points.

LSU hit 7-of-8 foul shots in the last minute of overtime to keep the Longhorns
at bay.

“Those turnovers were tough, man,” said Buckman of Texas’ early overtime
deficit. “I mean, we tried to get something going and we had a couple mental
lapses and it just happened. It’s how the game goes.”

The Tigers took their biggest lead of regulation when Tasmin Mitchell’s three-
pointer with under five minutes left made the score 50-45. However, Texas’
defense would stiffen down the stretch and allow the ‘Horns back in it.

After two Kenton Paulino free throws cut Texas’ deficit to three, Tucker sank
a hook shot with 2:15 remaining to close the gap to 50-49.

Davis made a huge turnaround jumper with the shot clock winding down to put
LSU up three heading into the final minute, but Gibson’s three-pointer on
Texas’ fourth shot of the possession deadlocked the game.

Tucker took the initial shot, which was blocked by Thomas. Paulino then
misfired on two straight three-point tries, but LSU was unable to corral the
rebound either time.

The teams were also tied at the end of a tightly-contested first half.

Paulino’s fast-break layup with under a minute left in the opening stanza put
Texas up 26-24, but Gibson had a pass stolen by Mitchell that was
converted into an easy layup and drew the Tigers even at the break.

The lead changed hands five times in the second half, with neither club ahead
by more than five points.

Game Notes

LSU will be making its fourth career Final Four appearance. The Tigers also
made it there in 1953 and 1980…Texas ended 10-of-29 from three-point range,
while the Tigers went just 3-of-18 from long distance…The last meeting
between the schools also came in NCAA play. LSU handed Texas a 72-67 defeat in
the second round of the 2000 tourney…Aldridge did register 10 rebounds for
Texas, which finished with a 45-42 advantage on the glass…Thomas had three
blocks and now has 14 in LSU’s four NCAA games.