Sat, Mar 25, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Tigers upend Blue Devils

AMERICAN BASKETBALL LSU eliminated top-seeded Duke from the NCAA Tournament as the UCLA Bruins stunned third-seeded Gonzaga 73-71 in regional action

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICEAND AP , ATLANTA, GEORGIAAP, DALLAS, TEXAS

UCLA cheerleaders perform during the first half of their NCAA Tournament regional semifinal game against Gonzaga in Oakland, California, on Thursday. The Bruins defeated the Bulldogs 73-71.

PHOTO: AP

It was not Louisiana State's Big Baby who thwarted top-seeded Duke on Thursday, but the Tigers' big freshman Tyrus Thomas, who made one significant play after another in the final minute to lead fourth-seeded LSU to a 62-54 upset of the Blue Devils in an NCAA tournament regional semifinal.

LSU was leading by 55-54 when the 6-foot-9 Thomas broke the Duke press and dribbled down the floor for a dunk with 34 seconds to play.

On Duke's next possession, Thomas blocked the shot of Greg Paulus, who was driving the lane with 27 seconds remaining.

The Big Baby, the 6-foot-9, 310-pound LSU sophomore Glen Davis, then took over with two offensive rebounds after missed free-throw attempts by the Tigers (26-8), who stretched their lead to 60-54 and held on for the shocker.

While Thomas made big plays down the stretch, LSU guard Garret Temple played terrific defense on the Duke All-American J.J. Redick, who made just 3 of 18 field-goal attempts and finished with 11 points.

Shelden Williams led Duke (32-4) with 23 points. Darrel Mitchell and Davis had 14 points apiece for LSU.

Duke was appearing in the Round of 16 for the ninth consecutive season. The Blue Devils' last national championship was in 2001.

Duke trailed by 40-35, but finally got itself together on offense with 11 minutes 26 seconds to play with a 10-0 run to take a 45-40 lead.

Redick had made just 2 of 13 shots, but Duke had another shooter to ignite the run. DeMarcus Nelson swished a 3-point shot from the corner as Duke finally showed some ball movement and smoothness on offense.

Duke's run coincided with a drought of 8:05 between field goals for LSU in a game that had little offensive flair because of poor ball handling by the Tigers and Duke's rugged play under the boards against taller LSU.

Davis spiced up the game and made himself the focal point of the matchup with comments to the news media on Wednesday. "I'm not a Dookie guy, I don't look like a Dookie guy," Davis said.

Davis, who was highly recruited in high school in football and basketball, said he had sat next to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski during a summer all-star game and said the Blue Devils' coach did not know him.

"A fairy tale," Krzyzewski said. "Of course I knew who he was."

Davis is the team clown, who makes fun of his eating habits and the comparisons to Shaquille O'Neal, the former LSU center. Davis' nicknames are Big Baby and Baby Shaq, and he said Wednesday he should have worn his T-shirt that says "I'm Not Shaq" to the news conferences.

LSU immediately tried to establish Davis when it fed him the ball in the post and he scored the game's first two points.

Davis also brought the ball down the floor on the break and faked a pass and scored with his left hand, giving the Tigers a 6-5 lead.

But the bigger issue early was Duke's full-court pressure defense. The Blue Devils, who use just a seven-man rotation, do not typically pressure full-court, but LSU has one point guard, Mitchell, who has been a shooting guard through most of his career.

Teams that have been successful against LSU this season have pressured the ball and Mitchell and forced the Tigers into turnovers. LSU was 10th in the Southeastern Conference in turnover margin.

UCLA 73, Gonzaga 71

At Oakland, California, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored underneath with 10 seconds left and the second-seeded Bruins scored the final 11 points of the game to knock out Morrison and third-seeded Gonzaga.

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