LSU nips Samford

Published 12:34 am Sunday, December 31, 2006

LSU coach John Brady didn’t expect to have an easy time against Samford in the final game of the Hispanic College Fund Classic on Friday.

Brady’s assessment was correct as it took the 17th-ranked Tigers about 30 minutes to pull away in a 60-45 victory.

Glen Davis, selected the Most Valuable Player of the three-day tournament, scored a 19 points and finished with 64 in the Tigers’ three victories. He was 7-of-13 from the field and had nine rebounds against Samford.

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“I knew that it was going to be a possession-by-possession game that would go all 40 minutes,” Brady said. “I thought as time went on we would be good enough athletically and defensively to slowly advance our lead, which is what we were able to do.”

In a slow-paced game, Tasmin Mitchell and Dameon Mason joined Davis in double figures. Mitchell had 13 points, while Mason finished with 11.

“We had to be slow and steady,” Davis said. “It was mentally tough because we had to sustain our intensity on defense for a long time.”

Randall Gulina, who made four 3-pointers, led Samford (6-6) with 14 points. No other Bulldogs player scored more than nine points.

The Tigers (10-3) made five straight shots to start the second half and more than double their four-point halftime advantage. Mitchell had a pair of field goals and Garrett Temple hit a 3-pointer as LSU took a 37-28 lead with 14:33 left in the game.

Samford closed the deficit to 38-36 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Gulina and Travis Peterson.

The Tigers then went on the game-deciding run. Baskets by Mason and Terry Martin started a string of nine consecutive LSU points. Davis made a pair of free throws before Mitchell knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Tigers ahead 47-36.

The Bulldogs went scoreless for five minutes.

“LSU took us out of our rhythm a little bit,” Samford coach Jimmy Tillette said. “After 30 minutes of the game, it was still close. We were hoping that we didn’t hit a wall in the second half. We were a little fatigued. Despite that, we continued to play hard.”

Samford dictated tempo in the first 20 minutes and prevented LSU from going off on a huge run. The Tigers took only 24 shots in the first half against the Bulldogs’ matchup-zone defense.

Samford stayed in the game and pulled within 23-21 on a 3-pointer by Gulina.

LSU, which made two baskets in the final eight minutes of the half, took a 25-21 lead into halftime when Mitchell hit a jumper with 3 seconds remaining.

“I think in the first half we allowed them to dictate the game with their offense,” Brady said. “In the second half, we sped the game up enough to bother them. It was a good game for us to win, because of how patient a team they are.”