Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
FORT WORTH, TX: LSU traveled to Fort Worth, Texas to take on TCU in the BIG12/SEC Challenge on Saturday afternoon and fell to the Horned Frogs, 77-68. The disappointing loss drops the 19th ranked Tigers to 16-5 on the season.
After cutting the TCU lead to three, 65-62 with 5:20 remaining, the Horned Frogs began to take the game over late with aggressive play in the paint, building a nine point lead with only 1:24 left on the clock and would finish defending their home court, defeating LSU for their first win over a ranked SEC team since 1954.
LSU controlled the opening tip of the contest and took a quick 2-0 lead on a jumper by Darius Days just 15 seconds into the game.
Both teams started fast and furious, pushing the ball quickly up and down the court, answering each other while taking and hitting nice shots.
With the score evened up at 8-8 at the 16:12 mark, the Tigers would be the first team to slump slightly allowing TCU to go on a 5-0 run to take a 13-8 lead with 13:45 left on the clock.
The game's pace suddenly slowed down into a half court battle, as both team's would trade turnovers and a few missed shot opportunities, before the Tigers managed to score four in a row to cut the Horned Frogs lead to one, 13-12 with 11:37 left in the first half.
TCU finally scored after a three and a half minute drought to extend their lead to 15-12 before LSU would answer with five straight as Days banked in a second change layup followed by a Mwani Wilkinson three pointer, giving the Bayou Bengals a 17-15 advantage.
The game was shaping up as a back and forth battle, as the score stood at 17-17 at the 8:47 mark. At this point in the contest the Tigers and Frogs had played into four lead changes and five ties.
After an officials timeout, the game's pace once again picked up with both squads racing up and down the floor, trading baskets before TCU would go on a 7-0 run to grab a 30-24 lead with 3:22 left in the first half.
Mwani Wilkinson hit a huge three from the far corner to cut the Horned Frogs lead to 31-29, but the LSU offense would begin to sputter allowing TCU to go on another 7-0 run to finish the first half, as the Tigers found themselves trailing 38-29 at the half.
Days, Wilkinson and Eason would finish the first half with six points each. Efton Reid added 4 points, while Eric Gaines scored 3. Xavier Pinson returned for the Tigers, playing the final seven minutes of the half, but looked rusty only managing 2 points. Brandon Murray added a quiet 2 points.
TCU shot the ball very well in the first half hitting 52% of their shots from the floor while LSU finished going 10-35 for only 29%. The Horned Frogs also controlled the boards, outrebounding the Tigers, 26-16.
LSU started the second half looking to turn up their defensive pressure, hoping it would lead to key turnovers and fast break points, while looking for better offensive production with Xavier Pinson returning to limited action.
The Tigers however started slow and TCU took advantage building a 16 point lead, 50-34 over the first four minutes of the half, as Charles O'Bannon caught fire scoring 11 straight points for the Frogs, hitting three treys and a deuce.
LSU finally showed signs of life as Tari Eason led the Tigers on a 13-2 run, cutting the TCU lead to five, 52-47 with 11:58 left on the clock.
The Tigers continued to heat up from the floor as Brandon Murray would sink a three pointer from the top of the key to pull LSU to within 55-54 at the 9:05 mark.
After TCU extended their lead back to nine, the Tigers would go on a 6-2 spurt cutting the lead to five, 67-62 with
5:06 remaining in the contest before the Frogs would take control the rest of the way.
Tari Eason led LSU with a tough 16 points on the day. Darius Days finished with a double-double scoring 14 points
while grabbing 12 rebounds. Eric Gaines added 14 points and Brandon Murray contributed 10.
After starting fast, the Tigers cooled off offensively finishing 24-65 from the floor for only 37%. LSU also struggled from three point land, especially late in the game going 6-19 for 32%. TCU outplayed the Tigers in the paint, outrebounding them 40-34.
Xavier Pinson saw his first action since injuring his knee against Tennessee at home, but found himself playing on a limited minute count. He looked rusty, managing to score 2 points in the final seven minutes of the first half and never returned to the lineup in the second half.
LSU will return home on Tuesday, Feb. 1st, jumping back into SEC play as they host Ole Miss at 8:00pm. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: The 19th ranked LSU Tigers ended their three game losing streak on Wednesday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center beating Texas A&M 70-64 in front of 10,929 rabid LSU fans.
With only 58 second left and the game even at 64-64, Texas A&M's Marcus Williams would miss a three point attempt, followed by two missed put back opportunities by the Aggies before Brandon Murray grabbed the rebound with 36 seconds left. Eric Gaines drew the foul sending him to the free throw line with 18 seconds left, hitting both shots giving LSU a 66-64 lead. After rebounding another A&M miss, Brandon Murray headed to the charity stripe and drained both of his free throws, increasing LSU's lead to 68-64. After struggling from the free throw line all night, Eric Gaines finished off Texas A&M at the stripe with two more points, giving LSU the 70-64 victory. Hats off to the LSU fans in attendance as their energy helped surge the Tigers to a huge must win.
“Well, it was a great, great win. We found a way. Eric Gaines played his best game here. He was phenomenal, just tremendous." Will Wade said. "I am just proud of our guys. It wasn’t easy. It is never easy, but I am really proud of our guys. We made the free throws when it mattered. We did not make many of them during the game, but we made them when it mattered. I thought the crowd was great. The students were great. I am just very proud of our group. To play the last 12 minutes basically without Tari (Eason) and Shareef made some big plays for us. Brandon Murray, he is just a warrior.”
Brandon Murray led the Tigers with 21 points.
Eric Gaines played perhaps his best game as a Tiger scoring 16 points and helped saved the game by blocking Andre
Gordon's attempted game winning shot. “I saw him by himself and went for it even though I had four fouls. I had to make that attempt. And I did." said Gaines. "I got the block and sealed the game at the free-throw line.”
Tari Eason had a great game as he contributed 14 points and played the final nine minutes of the game battling leg cramps.
The final game stats were as close as the game. LSU shot 20-47 from the floor for 43%, while the Aggies shot 21-52
for 40%,... The Tigers finished 6-13 from three point range for 46%, while A&M finished 9-26 from behind the arc for 35%,... LSU shot 24-35 from the free throw line for 69%, compared to Texas A&M hitting 13-20 free throws for 65%,... Both teams turned the ball over 18 times and LSU won the rebound battle, 38-30...
The Aggies controlled the opening tip and the game early on as they would build a 7-4 lead at the 15:06 mark with LSU once again starting slowly offensively.
Andre Gordon added two three pointers over the next two minutes to extend the A&M lead to 13-7 before the Tigers would respond with a 6-0 run, four of those points courtesy of Shareef O'Neal, to tie the contest at 13-13 with 11:26 left in the first half.
Over the next two minutes, both teams would trade three pointers, keeping the game knotted up at 16-16, before
Tyrece Radford added a three point play after being fouled while scoring on a layup and then sinking his free throw. LSU answered quickly to tie the game at 19-19 with 8:20 left on the clock, as Brandon Murray played string music from three point land.
The Tigers and Aggies continued to go back and forth answering each other, keeping the game evened up as at the 7:11 mark we found the score tied at 23-23.
Three minutes later we would find ourselves all even at 27-27, before Eric Gaines' two free throws put LSU back up
29-27. However, Texas A&M's Quenton Jackson answered with a wide open three pointer from the corner, quickly giving the Aggies the lead back, 30-29, with 2:23 left in the half.
Over the final two minutes LSU turned up their defensive pressure helping them go on a 5-1 run to end the first half as the Tigers find themselves up 34-31 at the half.
Statistically, both teams played just about even over the first 20 minutes. LSU shot 40% from the floor going 10-25 while A&M finished going 9-23 for 39% from the floor. Both teams finished the first half shooting 38% from behind the three point arc with LSU hitting 11-18 while the Aggies went 8-11. A&M did a better job from the free throw line as they hit 8-11 for 73% while the Tigers struggled only making 11-19 for 58%.
Brandon Murray led the Tigers at the half with 10 points, while Eric Gaines and Tari Eason each finished with 8 points each. Shareef O'Neal added four points and both Alex Fudge and Efton Reid managed 2 points each.
The back and forth battle continued as the second half began. Tyrece Radford opened the half with a three pointer to tie the game at 34-34.
With the game knotted up at 37-37, LSU scored three straight to take a 40-37 lead at the 15:51 mark, before A&M finally answered two minutes later to pull within 40-39 as neither team could take control of the contest.
Tari Eason headed to the LSU locker room 40 seconds later apparently due to leg cramping. With Eason, Days and Pinson now out for the Tigers, the LSU offense slumped badly, allowing the Aggies to build a 43-40 advantage with 11:57 left in the game.
Thankfully Tari Eason returned to the floor and quickly scored four straight to help LSU regain the lead, 44-43, as the teams had played through ten lead changes and nine ties at this point in the contest.
Next it would be the Aggies turn to go on a mini run, scoring four in a row to grab a 48-44 lead with 9:22 left on the clock.
Two minutes later with A&M leading by five, 51-46, Shareef O'Neal hit a three pointer from the far corner to help his team pull to within two, 51-49.
LSU would fall behind again, 58-53 before scoring four straight, cutting the lead to one, 58-57 with 4:46 remaining in this wild and crazy SEC battle.
Texas A&M again ran off four in a row to extend their lead to five, 62-57 with 3:34 to go, as a battered and bruised LSU squad struggled to keep pace.
The Tigers scratched and clawed their way back, cutting the Aggies lead to 62-61 at the 2:53 mark.
A&M answered on a second chance basket with 1:45 left to go back up by three, 64-61.
Mwani Wilkinson then stepped up and hit a huge three pointer from the far corner to tie the game at 64-64 as the Assembly Center crowd roared their approval with only 58 second remaining.
With the win LSU is now 16-4 overall and 4-4 in SEC play...
Next up LSU will take a break from SEC play on Saturday at 11 a.m. when they travel to TCU in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Tigers will return home next Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 8:00p.m to host Ole Miss.
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
KNOXVILLE, TN: LSU traveled to Knoxville for a rematch with Tennessee and ended up splitting the series as the Volunteers took down the wounded Tigers, 64-50 on Saturday evening.
Struggles and inconsistency on offense has once again cost the Tigers as they dropped their third SEC contest in a row, falling to 15-4 overall and 3-4 in the conference.
With Xavier Pinson still out with a MCL sprain and Darius Days dealing with an injured ankle, the Tigers have lost their bite and until they can both return 100% healthy, Will Wade needs to figure out a solution quickly before his team sinks too far in the SEC standings.
“It was a disappointing day, we couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Wade said. “We looked tired, we looked slow. I thought this was as poorly as we’ve played all season. Give Tennessee credit, they played hard, they made it difficult on us. They hit some 3s, so it was a tough night for us.”
Tennessee took control of the opening tip and wasted no time taking a quick lead as Santiago Vescovi drained a three pointer only 27 seconds into the contest.
LSU began the game ice cold missing their first four shots as the Vols stayed hot from behind the three point arc, hitting two more treys to help build an 11-0 lead at the 16:29 mark.
The Tigers finally got on the board with 13:36 left on the clock when Darius Days hit a jumper in the paint, drawing a foul but would miss his free throw attempt, cutting the Tennessee lead to 14-2.
Tari Eason and Darius Days would then answer Tennessee's 5th three pointer of the half with each hitting one of his own, to pull the Tigers to within 17-10 with 11:27 left in the first half.
Over the next three minutes the Volunteers extended their lead to 22-12, out-scoring LSU 5-2 as the Tigers missed
easy scoring opportunities under the basket.
With 4:11 left in the half, and trailing 25-19, the Tigers would take advantage of sloppy Tennessee play over the next three minutes, scoring five straight to pull to within one, 25-24. But the Vols answered scoring four straight to take a 29-24 halftime lead at the break.
LSU continued to struggle offensively without Xavier Pinson as they finished the first half shooting 9-26 from the floor for 35% while going 3-11 from behind the three arc for 27%.
Brandon Murray led the Tigers at the half with 9 points while Tari Eason finished with 7 points and Darius Days added 5.
With Tennessee leading 32-26 at the 15:46 mark of the second half, LSU suffered a huge loss as Darius Days re-injured his sprained ankle sending him to the locker room. The Vols began to take advantage scoring five straight to increase their lead to 37-26, forcing Will Wade to call a timeout with 14:13 left on the clock.
LSU continued to play poorly on offense and with no intensity on defense as Tennessee increased their lead to 47-32 at the 9:06 mark, before Darius Days surprisingly returned to the game.
Even with Days returning to the lineup, LSU's offense remained in sputter-mode as the Tigers had to scratch and claw for every basket against a suffocating Vols defense.
Will Wade had the Tigers begin to full court press which forced Tennessee into a couple of huge turnovers that LSU was able to capitalize on, scoring five straight to cut the lead to six, 51-45 with 5:00 left in the game.
Tennessee responded with five straight of their own to erase LSU's run, increasing their lead back to double digits,
56-45 with 4:20 left in the game. The Tigers unfortunately continued their late game meltdown streak, as they fell apart on both ends of the court, allowing the Volunteers to pull away for a 64-50 win.
Tari Eason led the team with 16 points, while Brandon Murray scored 15 and Eric Gaines added 10 on the night.
Next up, the Tigers will return home to host Texas A&M on Wednesday, Jan. 26th. The game will be televised on the SEC Network with tipoff set for 8:00pm.
LSU Falls to Alabama, 70-67, While Losing Darius Days to Injury; Injuries to Key Players Loom Large for Will Wade's Bayou Bengals in the Middle of SEC Play
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
TUSCALOOSA, AL: Injuries and sloppy play continued to plague the Tigers as they fell to Alabama, 70-67 on Wednesday night. LSU traveled to Tuscaloosa to face Bama in a must win for both teams. The 13th ranked Tigers (15-2 and 3-2 SEC) limped into town coming off an upset loss to Arkansas, while the Crimson Tide (11-6 and 2-3 SEC) were reeling after losing three in a row.
The Tigers would still be without their starting point guard Xavier Pinson and the injury situation became worse after Darius Days turned his ankle late in the first half and never returned.
“Look, I’m really proud of our guys. We’ve obviously got to clean up the turnovers and the defensive rebounding, but to come in here and battle like this when we’re not at full strength was good to see. When we get everybody back healthy, it’s going to be tough on opponents." Will Wade said. "I’m really proud of our guys. I’m really pleased with how they fought tonight. We got to go back and clean some stuff up we got to get some guys healthy and we’ll figure it out. But proud of our effort under the circumstances we had tonight. It was very impressive. We got the right stuff. We’re unbreakable. Great toughness. I’m as proud of our team as I’ve been all year and that includes all the damn wins we’ve had. We’re going to get our guys as healthy as we can, go to Knoxville and fight our asses off again on Saturday night.”
It was a defensive battle early on as both teams found themselves knotted up at 9-9 after the first seven and a half minutes of the contest before LSU would score five straight to take a 14-9 lead at the 11:31 mark.
Over the next four minutes the Crimson Tide would hit three straight three pointers to go on a 9-0 run taking a 18-14 lead in what was shaping up to be a game of scoring streaks.
LSU settled down and battle back to tie the contest at 21-21 with 5:14 to play in the first half. But Alabama would remain hot from the outside, draining two more three pointers to help retake and extend their lead to 29-25 after Darius Days had to leave the game with an ankle injury at the 1:54 mark.
Trailing by five, 33-28, Tari Eason would hit a three pointer at the buzzer, drawing a foul on the shot. Eason easily sank his free throw for a four point play to pull LSU to within 33-32 at half.
Tari Eason carried the Tigers during the opening 20 minutes, scoring 13 points. Brandon Murray finished the first half with 7 points, while Darius Days left the game late with 5 points after turning his ankle and wouldn't return.
The Tigers out-shot the Tide in the first half shooting 45% from the floor compared to Bama's 34%. Alabama finished 7-19 from behind the three point arc while LSU hit 5-11. The Tide out-rebounded LSU 19-18 and LSU committed 9 costly turnovers to Bama's 8.
The second half became an evenly played, heated battle over the first three and a half minutes, as Alabama found themselves clinging to a 37-36 lead at the officials timeout with 16:27 left on the clock.
The Tide began to pull away from LSU over the next four minutes, out-scoring the Tigers 10-5 to increase their lead to 47-41 at the 11:55 mark.
Without Xavier Pinson and Darius Days LSU continued to sputter offensively on every possession, looking totally out of sync as they would struggle to find a good shot or turn the ball over and the Tide began to take advantage.
With Alabama leading 53-44 with 8:58 left, Will Wade would draw a technical foul, helping Bama increase their lead to 57-44 at the 7:51 mark.
Eric Gaines would catch fire, hitting three straight three pointers to lead the Tigers on a 14-1 run to tie the game at 58-58 with 4:47 left in the game.
Over the next three minutes, LSU's offense would go MIA, as turnovers and sloppy play allowed Alabama to build a 68-60 lead with 1:22 left.
The Tigers would manage to cut the lead in half, 68-64 with 22 seconds left. After Alabama ended up missing four straight free throws, Brandon Murray would hit a three pointer to cut the Tide's lead to 68-67 with five seconds left. Keon Ellis then sank two charity shots to increase the lead to 70-67, before Eric Gaines missed a three pointer at the buzzer giving Alabama a huge much needed win.
Tari Eason carried the Tigers on his back all night with little help as LSU's offensive woes continue. Eason finished the game with a double-double, scoring 26 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. Brandon Murray added 19 points and Eric Gaines added 9 points on the night.
"I don't like losing. Nobody on the team likes losing, so we're not happy by any means." Said Eason. "But what I do love about this team is our resilience. The fact we came together. ... Once we get some other things cleaned up and we have all our guys, we're gonna be a machine."
Turnovers and losing the rebound battle once again hurt LSU late in a contest. Alabama out-rebounded the Tigers, 44-36 while scoring 21 points off of 20 LSU turnovers. The Tigers continued their struggles at the free throw line leaving six points at the charity stripe, only going 9-15 for 60%.
With the loss, LSU is now 15-3 overall and 3-3 in the SEC...
The Tigers will travel to Knoxville on Saturday to play #24 Tennessee in a huge SEC rematch. Tipoff is set for 5:00pm and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: The Arkansas Razorbacks came into Baton Rouge on Saturday afternoon and handed the 12th ranked LSU Tigers a disappointing 65-58 loss. LSU struggled offensively all day, especially during the final nine minutes of the contest where they would go six and a half straight minutes without a score, allowing a scrappy Arkansas team to overcome an eight point deficit to steal the win.
Eric Gaines spoke about the offensive loss of rhythm… “I take the blame on that. As a point guard I have to get my team set up and bring the ball up the court faster. I feel like I did not do that.” He then touched on Arkansas’ physicality… “I am not going to say that was the toughest defensive team we have played this year. I would say they are more physical though. They came out and were ready to play. We just have to take another step. We cannot go back but we just need to take another step onto the next game."
"We had some different lineups out there. We got great players and we expect those guys to make plays," Will Wade said. "We've got to execute better. They picked Gaines up full court which made it tougher on us to get into our offense. They did a nice job. Look, Arkansas made a ton of plays down the stretch. We turned the ball over too much. We got out-rebounded. We missed some free throws. That’s gonna get you just about every time. We just weren’t as clean as we needed to be coming down the stretch.".... Wade would add. "I probably should have used some of my timeouts to get Days back in when they cut the lead to one, 56-55. I should have used a timeout there. I’ll go back and look at all that. I should have helped our guys out a little bit more. But we just didn’t make plays we needed to down the stretch. We’ll get back after it and turn the page for a tough week on the road next week.”
LSU controlled the opening tip and took the early lead on a basket in the paint by Efton Reid. 2-0 Tigers. Leading 6-2 at the at the 17:48 mark, the Tigers would out score the Hogs 10-7 over the next five minutes to take a 16-9 advantage as LSU's defensive pressure forced Arkansas into five early turnovers.
But the Razorbacks settled down quickly and turned up their intensity, out hustling LSU, storming back to tie the game at 18-18 with 9:00 left in the first half.
Three minutes later, Au'diese Toney finished a fast break with a monster dunk to give the Hogs their first lead of the contest, 24-23 with 6:26 to go.
LSU continued to sputter offensively, but managed to even things up at 28-28 at the 2:36 mark, before outscoring Arkansas 5-2 to end a very sloppy first half of play, taking a 33-31 lead into the locker room at the half.
Alex Fudge led the Tigers at the half with 9 points, while Eric Gaines and Tari Eason both finished with 7 points each. Justice Williams and Efton Reid both contributed 4 points each, but the big key stat of the first half was Darius Days being held scoreless by the Hogs.
Both teams began the second half shooting the ball well, as the Tigers and Hogs each drained a couple of big three pointers to keep the game close with LSU clinging to a 41-39 lead with 16:55 left on the clock.
At the 13:16 mark with the game knotted up at 45-45, the Tigers would take advantage of a couple of Arkansas missed shots, scoring six straight to take a 50-45 lead. However, Arkansas refused to go away, scoring three straight to cut the lead to two, 50-48 with 10:57 left in the game.
The Tigers responded with a 6-0 run to take a 56-48 advantage, but would then go ice cold, missing several opportunities
to increase their lead.
Arkansas finally took advantage of LSU's lifeless offense, going on a 10-0 run to regain the lead, 58-56 with 3:33 left in the game.
Alex Fudge would score LSU's first basket in over six minutes with a thunderous dunk to tie things up at 58-58 with only 2:16 left on the clock.
Jaylen Williams hit a wide open three pointer from the top of the key, putting the Hogs up 61-58 at the 1:12 mark, before increasing their lead to five with 22 seconds left when Stanley Umude would rebound a missed free throw attempt and bank the ball in for the score. The Hogs would add two more free throws to clinch the 65-58 victory.
The Tigers had one of their worst offensive outings of the season on Saturday as they shot 21-55 from the floor for 38%, while also struggling from three point range, going 5-19 for 26%. A poor day at the free throw line also proved to be costly for the Bayou Bengals as they hit only 11-17 from the charity stripe for 65%. LSU committed 16 turnovers and were out-rebounded by the Hogs, 41-31.
Eric Gaines led the team in scoring with 14 points, while Alex Fudge and Tari Eason scored 13 points each. Efton Reid added 7 points on the day and Darius Days was held to only 3 points total.
With the loss, the Tigers are now 15-2 overall and 3-2 in the SEC..
LSU will be on the road next week, traveling to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, Jan. 19th to battle Alabama, then heading to Knoxville on Saturday, Jan. 22nd for a rematch with the Volunteers...
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
GAINESVILLE, FL: The 12th ranked LSU Tigers traveled to Gainesville on Wednesday to take on a tough Florida basketball team in a big SEC matchup. The Gators gave LSU all they could handle, but the Tigers were able to pull out a hard fought victory on the road, 64-58.
“I thought we got off to a great start, which was huge. Give our guys credit, man. We’re a tough out. Very proud of our guys.” said Will Wade. "We're built on a rock solid foundation. We have unbelievable culture, connectedness and togetherness. We're built for moments like this." Wade continued. “We’re so connected and so tough. The tougher the circumstance, the better we are. It doesn’t get any tougher than tonight. We’re fighters, man. That’s what our program is about.”
Darius Days led the team with 20 points on the night, as he came up with several big baskets at key moments in the ball game. Eric Gaines had a great game, raising his play late in the contest to help the Tigers pull away from the pesky Gators as he finished with 15 points on the night. Brandon Murray stepped up with a solid performance, as he added 10 points. Shareef O'Neil saw his first action of the season scoring 4 points and making his presence felt on the defensive end of the floor.
LSU finished the contest shooting 50% from the floor and shot 3-9 from behind the three point line for 33%, while the Gators finished 36% from the floor and 7-31 from behind the arc for 23%. The biggest stat of the game came from the free throw line. The Tigers made 7-11 for 64%, but Florida lost the game at the charity strip hitting only 11-22 from the line for a dismal 50%.
With the win, LSU is now 15-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC play, while Florida falls to 9-6 overall and 0-3 in the SEC...
The Tigers controlled the opening tip and quickly went up 4-0 during the first minute of the play on two baskets by Darius
Days who was on fire early. LSU would outscore the Gators 8-4 over the next two minutes as LSU increased their lead to 12-4 at the 16:24 mark.
LSU held a double digit lead, 27-13 with 7:45 left in the first half and seemed as if they were taking control of the game, but foul trouble by Efton Reid and Tari Eason would force the big man and the Tigers' leading scorer to the bench.
Florida began to slowly chip away at the LSU lead, cutting it to six, 34-28 with 1:12 left on the clock, but a nice shot off the glass by Shareef O'Neal and a layup on an incredible drive to the basket by Eric Gaines at the buzzer gave LSU a 38-30 lead at halftime.
Both teams shot well from the floor in the first half as the Tigers were 16-34 for 47% while the Gators managed to hit 42% of their shots. LSU was 50% from three point land, hitting 3-6. Defensively the Tigers forced 8 Florida turnovers while out-rebounding the Gators, 18-15.
Darius Days went to the locker room leading the team with 12 points. Eric Gaines added 7 points, while Brandon Murray scored 6. Shareef O'Neal and Tari Eason both contributed 4 each, while Wilkinson finished with 3 points and Efton Reid added 2.
LSU started the second half with a 6-0 run over the first three minutes, taking a 44-30 lead at the 17:05 mark, however, Reid and Eason both managed to pick up their fourth personal fouls early in the half, hampering LSU's attack.
The Gators were able to find another gear as they began to eat away at the LSU lead, cutting it to two points, 48-46
with 12:08 on the clock after Kowacie Reeves and Phlandrous Fleming each hit a three pointer to end a 16-4 Florida run.
Tari Eason and Efton Reid would both foul out of the contest, leading to LSU's struggles. With Ried on the bench, Florida would begin to feed Colin Castleton under the basket who would score 17 second half points, helping Florida stay right on the Tigers' heels. With Eason on the bench and Xavier Pinson out with a knee injury, the Bayou Bengal's offense would sputter with several hick ups in the second half.
With the Tigers only leading by two, 56-54, Eric Gaines began to step up his play with 3:46 left in the contest. After Gaines sank two free throws, he then hit a huge jumper, before scoring on a beautiful reverse layup to help give LSU some breathing room.
With 25 seconds left, Alex Fudge would close the contest out with a monster dunk, giving the Tigers a hard fought 64-58 victory.
Next up LSU will host the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday, Jan. 15th at 1:00pm...
Da Boot Sport
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: The #21 LSU Tigers improved their record to 14-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC after defeating the 18th ranked Tennessee Volunteers in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, 79-67 on Saturday evening.
The contest was expected to be a defensive battle as LSU and Tennessee are the top two defensive teams, according to KenPom. The Tigers and Vols are ranked #1 and #2, respectively, in adjusted defensive efficiency, which measures a team's points allowed per 100 possessions adjusted for the opponent. LSU allows 82.7 points per 100 possessions in adjusted defensive efficiency. UT allows 85.7.
The Tigers were led by Tari Eason's double-double, has he finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds on the night. Darius Days had a good game as he scored 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, while Brandon Murray contributed 13 points in the ball game. Xavier Pinson added 9 point before leaving the game with a knee injury. Wilkinson finished with 8 points and Eric Gaines added 7 points.
Will Wade's would comment after the contest.. “Great, great win. Really proud of our guys. Tremendous effort all night. I thought we got off to a great start. We got off to a better start to start the second half. That was a problem for us against Kentucky and Auburn. I thought we did a much better job getting off to a quick start with the second half, and we certainly closed it strong. (Eric) Gaines made some big free throws. It was a little herky-jerky for a little bit, but we found a way to get a big win. Before you ask, X(avier Pinson) appears to just be a knee sprain. Best case scenario for us. Doesn’t appear to be any damage to the ACL or MCL. We got to get it looked at tomorrow. Our scanning machine here only does so much. We’re going to get it scanned again tomorrow, but it appears that it’s the best-case scenario. It’ll be a matter of days to a week with him, which would be fantastic.”
LSU controlled the opening tip and grabbed a quick 3-0 lead when Mwani Wilkinson hit a shot from behind the arc. Tennessee answered 30 seconds later to tie the game with a three point shot by Josiah-Jordan James. 3-3 with 18:17 left
on the clock.
In a heated defensive battle, both teams found themselves all evened up at 11-11 at the 11:47 mark.
LSU would begin to pull away thanks to strong defensive pressure and controlling the boards, going on a 13-4 run over the next four minutes to take a 24-15 lead with 8:09 left in the first half.
With 5:13 left on the clock, Tari Eason would tip in a missed shot to extend the LSU lead to 30-20.
Both teams would heat up from behind the arc, with each team hitting back-to-back three points to make the score 38-31, LSU at the 1:36 mark.
LSU took a 42-35 lead into the locker room at the half after both teams played even over the final 1:36.
The Tigers shot the ball well over the first 20 minutes, going 16-30 from the floor for 53%, while also having a good night from behind the three point arc, going 6-10 for 60%. LSU’ top defense in the nation did a good job of controlling the Tennessee offensive attack, as the Vols only shot 41% from the floor.
Brandon Murray and Xavier Pinson both led the team in the first half, scoring 9 points each. Mwani Wilkinson added 8 points, while Tari Eason scored 7 in the first half.
The Vols began the second half hitting a three pointer to pull within four, 42-38 at the 19:38 mark. But LSU would heat up to respond with a 16-4 run over the next four minutes to take a 58-42 advantage with 15:23 to go in the contest.
A minute later LSU increased their lead to 20 points, 62-42 after a Darius Days jumper and two free throws by
Tennessee would dig down and begin to chip away at the LSU lead, going on a 14-5 run over the next six minutes to pull to within 67-56 with 8:30 left in the contest.
The Tigers would continue to allow Tennessee to hang around, as they outscored LSU 7-4 over the next four minutes, pulling to within 71-63 with 4:02 to go.
Santiago Vescovi would hit a three pointer to cut the LSU lead to 71-66. But the Tigers responded with four straight on a fast break layup by Brandon Murray and a monster fast break dunk by Tari Eason to increase the lead back to nine, 75-66 with 1:21 left in the game.
LSU would finish off the Volunteers over the final minute to earn the 79-67 win.
**Some of the LSU players press conference quotes after the game::
*Forward Darius Days::
On the team’s hustle and work ethic being the difference for winning games…
“Definitely. I mean that’s our identity now. We got to work on our offense as well, but our defense is going to help us win a lot of games this year.”
On what this game ranks for Tennessee matchups in his LSU career…
“Good question right there. We had some good games. It ranks pretty big. One of the coaches was talking kind of crazy with me. He was saying I couldn’t guard. I’m top 10. I would say this is probably number one. We got this win at home for sure.”
On the team’s 26 fouls total…
“It is what it is. When you come to LSU, that’s what you sign up for.”
*Forward Tari Eason::
On the team’s hustle and work ethic…
“We’re hard workers. We get after it in practice. We’re always working. We had guys like Days diving on the floor in July. The leadership that he and our other leaders bring is really important, and it has really fed into our other guys.”
On the PMAC being close to a sell out …
“I think it was really special, especially for me. I played at Tennessee last year, obviously, with my previous school. Things didn’t go how I planned. But this year, being at the PMAC, we turned it up.”
On what was working so well for him in the second half…
“Just being in the flow of the game. Picking my open spots and transition, when I can attack, get fouled and knock my free throws out.”
*Guard Brandon Murray
On first few SEC games in his career…
“The game is definitely a lot faster. With the guys I have around me, it feels normal. I feel like I have adjusted really well, just doing what I can do.”
Next up LSU will travel to Gainesville to battle the Gators on Wednesday, Jan.12th at 6:00pm. The game will be carried on ESPN2...
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
Da Boot Sports
By: David Penn
Baton Rouge, La - Coach Will Wade and the #21 LSU Tigers defeated the 13th ranked Kentucky Wildcats, 65-60 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Tuesday night in front of 11,808 electric fans.
The huge win was the icing on the cake to a special night as LSU honored legendary coach Dale Brown before the game and again at halftime by naming the basketball court, 'Dale Brown Court'....
“It was a good win. I wish we would have closed it out a little bit better." Will Wade said. "I did not think we had a great start to the second half, to state the obvious. But I thought our guys played really hard. We were able to overcome some of our deficiencies because we played so hard. We did a nice job on the backboards. We battled really hard on the glass. You have to protect your home court in SEC play, and we were able to do that.”
Kentucky opened the scoring with a 3 pointer by guard TyTy Washington Jr, but LSU answered with an 8-0 run with Brandon Murray and Xavier Pinson each sinking shots from beyond the arc.
The two teams would battle back and forth swapping lead changes until LSU ended the first half on a 7-2 run to take a 35-30 lead into the locker room.
In the first half LSU shot 12-29 from the field, including 5-10 from 3 point range, while Kentucky shot just 12-36 from
the field and was only 1-11 from beyond the arc.
LSU out-worked Kentucky on the glass, grabbing the edge in rebounds 25-21. Costly charging fouls ended
Kentucky possessions prematurely and good LSU defense helped keep the Wildcats off balance.
LSU began the second half ice cold, failing to convert on offense over the first 3:04, and the Wildcats would take advantage, draining back-to-back-to-back three pointers to open up a 9-0 run and take a 39-35 lead.
Kentucky would lead by as many as 9 with 13:00 to play. LSU would use a combination of stifling defense and good
ball movement to trim the Kentucky lead to 50-48 with 7:46 to play after Kentucky would go over five minutes without scoring a basket.
LSU’s 13-2 run, was capped by a 3 pointer by Darius Days which put the Tigers on top 54-52 with 6:15 remaining, a lead they would not relinquish. LSU would lead by as many as 9 before pulling out the 65-60 victory.
Tari Eason led the Tigers in scoring with 13 points, while both Brandon Murray (10 pts.) and Xavier Pinson (11 pts.) scored in double figures. Darius Days scored 9 points while leading the team in rebounding with 7 boards.
With the win, LSU improves to 12-1 (1-1 SEC) while Kentucky falls to 11-3 (1-1 SEC).
Next the Tigers will host the #18 Tennessee Volunteers (9-3 overall and 0-1 in SEC) play in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday, January 8. Tip Off is set for 5:00pm..
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: Tomorrow night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center LSU will honor legendary LSU coach Dale Brown by naming the basketball court, 'Dale Brown Court'. They will honor coach Brown both before the game and then again at halftime.
Dale Brown was head coach at LSU for 25 years compiling a record of 448-301 (.598)... He led LSU to two Final
Four appearances in 1981 & 1986... He has recruited and coached some of the greatest players in the history of LSU basketball, such as Rudy Macklin, Collis Temple Jr., John Williams, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, and Shaquille O'Neal....
Back in May of 2021 I had the honor and pleasure to interview Dale Brown about his life and coaching career. I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to repost this Q & A session below for everyone to once again read and enjoy.
Q & A with Dale Brown
Today's Q&A Session is with Legendary, Hall of Famer, All-Time Great, former LSU Basketball Head Coach Dale Brown. Coach Brown coached at LSU for 25 years between 1972-1997.
He quickly put the struggling LSU basketball program on the map turning it into a winner.
He is the winningest coach in LSU basketball history.
Brown is the only SEC coach to have ever appeared in 15 straight national tournaments and only 11 coaches in NCAA history have made more consecutive NCAA appearances (10). Only the legendary Adolph Rupp of Kentucky has won more games in SEC history. Brown and Rupp are the only SEC coaches that had 17 consecutive non-losing seasons. Only four coaches in the SEC have won more conference championships, Adolph Rupp, Joe Hall, Tubby Smith, and Billy Donovan.
He's known for beating Kentucky 18 times, more than any coach in the nation.
115 of 160 of his players received their college degrees.
He is a member of the Minot State University Athletics Hall of Fame, North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, National College Basketball Hall of Fame, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and the Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. In 2004, he was inducted as an SEC Living Legend.
In 1999, Sports Illustrated selected him as one of the top 50 athletes of the 20th century from North Dakota.
The Bleacher Report selected him as one of the 50 greatest basketball coaches in college basketball history.
During Brown's era, LSU set the record for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th largest paid attendance for a regular season game in college basketball history:
Jan. 20th, 1990 Superdome -68,112 - LSU 87 Notre Dame 64
Jan. 28th 1989 Superdome - 66,144 - LSU 82 Georgetown 80
Jan. 3rd, 1992 Superdome - 61,304 - LSU 84 Texas 83
Nicknamed :"The Master Motivator" for constantly having his teams play at a high level and overachieve.
Coach Brown finished his career at LSU with a record of 448-301 (.598)... Two Final Four appearances (1981, 1986)...
Four regular season SEC championships (1975, 1981, 1985, 1991).... One SEC tournament championship (1980)... He is a four time SEC Coach of the Year (1973. 1979, 1981, 1989).... Was chosen as the National Coach of the Year (1981)...
Enjoy the Q & A Below...........
Q - So Coach Brown, I see you were born in Minot, North Dakota. Did you live and grow up there most of your young life?
Coach Brown - Yes.. It's a little town and we have a slogan there, "Why Not Minot?" .... I was very very fortunate. I had a wonderful mother. My biological father abandoned my mother and I two days before I was born. disappeared from the earth. gave us no financial support or any other kind of support.
My beloved mother came off a farm. If you're familiar with history, 1935 was the middle of the great depression, that lasted from 1929 to 1939. She only had a 8th grade education and the only place that we could find to live in that we had money to pay for was a one room apartment above a bar and hardware store. No bathroom, no shower, no bathtub. I never slept in a bed for 21 years. My mother had a little bed that pulled out from the wall and I had a sofa to sleep on. I could reach out and touch her head while we slept.
She became a maid for 50 cents an hour and also became a babysitter. Never ever complained or never talked bad about the man that left her. Then finally we got to move a few doors down and we had a bathroom and we had a toilet. I was like, "Oh Man!" ... But I still didn't have a bed.
But it isn't the physical surroundings, it's the spiritual, in the warmth you get from a loved one, if there is such a thing as a saint, my mother was a saint. She was Sheroe.
Q - I've read how great of an athlete you were. At what age did you start playing organized sports?
Coach Brown - I started organized sports in the 5th grade. I had three older sisters. One died at birth. The other two graduated from high school but never went to college. So I knew if I was going to get an education, there was only one way I was going to be able to do it and that was through an athletic scholarship. Although I started working when I was ten years old.
This may sound insane, because we didn't have a father and were poverty stricken, but I wouldn't change my bringing up. I learned tenacity. I learned honesty from my mother.
What I learned from my mother, was she never spoke. You would see the lessons. My mother was a very spiritual woman, but I learned my lessons from her by watching her. She never preached to me.
Edgar Guest, who is my favorite poet, described her perfectly. He said, "I'd rather see a lesson then hear one any day.
I'd rather you walk with me, then merely show the way. The eyes are a better teacher and are more willing then the ear. The council you are giving may be very fine and true, but I'd rather get my examples by observing what you do." ..... and I saw that from my mother.
She never criticized the man that had left her. She never dated, she never smoked, she never consumed Alcohol, she never swore. She was a wonderful human being.
Q - I see that when you reached high school you attended St. Leo's High School and played football, basketball, and ran track, correct?
Coach Brown - Correct, and the same in college. I went to a little teacher's college in Minot, North Dakota called Minot State Teacher's College, a small NAIA school of 500.
Some of my friends were able to go to big time Universities, and I use to feel that maybe I got cheated by going to a little school, but I didn't. I had great teachers and great people that not only taught, but cared about you. So it isn't the size or the name of the university. It could be Stanford, or it could be Grambling, or Minot State. It's the people who are teaching, and I had some great teachers.
Q - So back in high school when you were a top athlete, I'm guessing recruiting must have been much different back then? Did you have anyone from larger schools trying to recruit you as an athlete?
Coach Brown - I had a scholarship offer to the University of North Dakota. I made a visit to University of North Dakota. I was so intimidated by it. I didn't have a suit. I had holes in the bottom of my shoes. I had to take popcorn boxes and cut them out and put them in my shoes so my socks wouldn't get wet. Well, they put me in a fraternity and these guys had cars and suits. I said, "Boy, I can't wait to get out of here and get back to little ole Minot State Teacher's College." and that turned out to be pretty lucky, because now 62 years later, the young lady that I met there, is still married to me. So I was lucky.
Q - Wow, So that's how you met Mrs. Vonnie? Would you like to tell us that story?
Coach Brown - I never really didn't do any dating. Didn't have a car. Didn't have any money. I was embarrassed still that we were on welfare and our clothes smelled like mothballs often and we lived in that little apartment above a bar and hardware store. So I really spent most of my time athletically.
One day I was walking up the steps of the school in the main building and I saw this little Norwegian looking blonde signing something at a table. So when she walked away I looked and the paper it said, 'Lutheran Students Association'. Well I happened to be Catholic, so I went and pretended to be signing up for it, but at the same time I was putting her telephone number in my brain. So I finally got enough guts to call her and of course she had no concept of who I was. She came from a little tiny town on the Montana/Canadian border called Columbus. We started to date. We didn't have any money to go to the show or any money to do anything, we just spent time together and both of us fell in love with each other. Got married, had one child our daughter Robyn. And 62 years later, she's still stuck with this moron. She is a remarkable woman. I couldn't be married to myself for 62 years...
Q - So I see that at Minot State you were a star athlete, earning 12 varsity letters in football, basketball, and track. You were the only athlete to accomplish this in these three sports, and you scored 1,140 points in three years of varsity basketball. You must have been something on the basketball court?
Coach Brown - Well, it's funny. It was a small school. Only 500 students when I went there. But we qualified for the National NAIA Championships and went to Kansas City to play for the National Championship.
Whether or not that I could have played Division I, everyone has delusions of grandeur, I don't know that. I had the spirit to do it. But I liked where I was at. I never had a desire to go any other place to play, and if I had gone to another place to play, I would have missed the greatest opportunity of my life, marrying my wife and having my beautiful daughter, Robyn. So everything works out.
When friends of mine would go to Notre Dame or Southern Cal or Stanford, I would think, "Wow, I bet I'm getting an inferior education." But years later I found out I didn't. That little teacher's college had teachers in it. A lot of those others didn't have teachers, they had performers. These people at my college were warm and loving, so I would not in any way ever regret growing up in poverty, Growing up in a one room apartment. I would not change anything.
Q - When you finished college did you have an opportunity to play basketball or any sport professionally?
Coach Brown - No, there was not. My coaching career came about, and I think about how times have changed now with salaries. I started out as a high school coach. I got $4,250.. ... I was the head basketball coach, the head wrestling coach, the head track coach, taught five subjects, and was the high school principal, and I thought, "Man, is this living high off the hog." .... So when I think of anything in my life, it does prove that hard work does pay off eventually. You don't have to have connections. You don't have to be dishonest. If you just work at something and you persevere, and believe in it, and you have faith that God is going to lead you into something, good things happen. It's very easy to be negative. For example, the media when I was growing up use to accentuate the positive and diminish the negative. Now, a large portion of the media does just the reverse. They accentuate the negative and diminish the positive.
Q - When you finished college, what made you decide that coaching basketball was for you and your future profession?
Coach Brown - Okay, you want the truth don't you? ... I knew I was going to graduate. School was never hard for me. I never took a book home, I just go to class and listen. I knew that I was never going to flunk, but I didn't really dig in like I should have.
What stimulated me, I always had delusions of grandeur baby. I really had. The FBI when I grew up is not the FBI now. That was the cleanest, nicest, wonderful thing. I was convinced that someday I could take over for J. Edgar Hoover and become a FBI guy. So now, I will really reshow you my stupidity. That won't surprise some people. I was coming into my final year and I had to declare what I was going to major in. I had taken a whole variety of subjects. Things that I was interested in.
The Exit Counselor, prior to my senior season in college, asked me what I wanted to do? So I told her, "One day I want to be head of the FBI." ... She looked at me and said, "Dale Brown, do you know where you're at? You're at a teacher's college. To be in the FBI you need to have a law degree or a degree in accounting. All yours is in education. You should be a teacher or a coach." ... I said, "Okay, that'll be fine." ... So, I wasn't born to be a coach, although I loved it for 44 years. I wouldn't do anything else.
Q - I see when all this took place with your coaching career, it all happened in California. Why did you end up leaving North Dakota to relocate to California?
Coach Brown - It was very simple. My wife and I both were teachers. We just could not make a living. We had a two year old daughter. Every month it was the same thing, which bill were we going to dodge. It's not like we were trying to cheat anybody, we just didn't have money. So we made a decision, and surprisingly my wife said, "Lets move to California." .. I'd never been to California. So literally with no money and a two year old daughter, We made a bed for her in the back seat of our car, and then took off for California. No connections. We started in southern California, stopped in school districts and talked to the superintendents asking if they had any openings. So our adventures to California, were by my wife's suggestions.
I was a junior high high school coach the first year we were there. It was the only job that I could get because we got
out there late. The second year I was a high school coach in Palm Springs.
I liked school teaching, but the thing that I didn't like about it is that you got stuck teaching courses that you knew nothing about. The superintendent came up to me just before school and told me that I had to teach Chemistry. I said, "I don't even know how to light a Bunsen Burner, how am I going to teach it?"
So I started writing letters to college coaches, telling them that I would like to come as a graduate assistant, and that I would even work for free for a year just so you can test me out. Low and behold, probably about 100 people I wrote, I only got answered by two people. But one of them was the head coach at Utah State. Within the year, he hired me to be his assistant. I spent five years at Utah State as an assistant and we were one game away from playing in the national championship. UCLA beat us in the regional championship. So just a break and a good suggestion by my wife.
Q - I see that at one point of your life you were in the military?
Coach Brown - Yes... When I was right at the age to be drafted, the principal at this high school I was teaching at told
me, "You should join the National Guard. You'll go six month of basic training and then you can come back here and teach. You won't have to leave your family, if you get drafted in the Army." ... So I did that, Spent the six months at basic training in California, then got out. Low and behold, the Berlin Crisis breaks out. Now I get drafted back into the Army, and we are going to go knock down the Berlin Wall. So I had to leave home again and spent one year in supposedly training to go to Germany and intimidate the communist that we weren't leaving there. It was a joke. We didn't do anything. We just wasted our time. If memory serves me right I think we only got $80 a month to send to our family.
Q - So while you were an assistant at Washington State, How did you find out about the LSU job opening?
Coach Brown - What happened, being an assistant at Washington State, they just fired their head coach. The next day they offered me the job. Which would have been my first college head coaching job. So I told them to let me think it over with my wife and see what she wants to do, thinking that I might take it.
I got home that night to our apartment and I got a call from Carl Maddox, Athletic Director at LSU. I'd never been to the South. So my wife called me to the phone and he said they were looking for a new head coach at LSU. I practically passed out, I had never been there, of course I knew about their great football and I knew about Bob Pettit and Pete Maravich, who was the greatest offensive player in the history of the game. But I knew very little about LSU basketball.
I came down for an interview and went back to Washington State, and now the AD at Washington State is trying to get me to take the job there. For some reason I was hesitant. The next day I got a call from Carl Maddox wanting me and my wife to come back down and meet the Board of Supervisors. Came down and the next afternoon, I ended up getting the head job here and 25 years later and now 24 years retired, we've been in Baton Rouge for 49 years.
The reason was Carl Maddox. He was a wonderful man, a tremendous leader, and you talk about no horseplay. He was straight down the line. He had been a high school coach. He knew how hard it was to move up to be a college head coach.
In Twenty Five years, I really enjoyed what I did, but I saw the sport changing. There were too many involvements that were no longer the coach, the teachers, or the parents that you dealt with. There were parasites. So called uncles some of them, and agents, and what-have-you. It just wasn't right. So it was time to give it up after 44 years of coaching.
I'm eternally grateful to LSU, Baton Rouge, and Louisiana for giving me this opportunity.
Q - I remember growing up only seeing one basketball head coach, you, battle the NCAA over their ridiculous rules and decision making. I think it was incredible how you would always stand up for what was right. Tell us a little about some of those battles?
Coach Brown - I believe that you would have done the same thing that I did and here's why... The NCAA. That supposedly stands for "National Collegiate Athletic Association." ... That's a joke! The NCAA stands for "Not Caring About Athletes!".... The only thing they were good at was legislating against human dignity and practicing monumental hypocrisy.
I'll tell you why I stood up to the NCAA. I wasn't gallant or anything else. I was just doing what was right. Let me give you two paramount examples and you tell me what you think.
We had a young man on our team from St. Louis, Mark Alcorn. We were in the Alaskan Shootout and I was taking bed check and he had almost jaundice skin and he was sweating. I said, "Mark, What's wrong with you?" .... He said he had this pain in his side. I asked him how long has he had it. He said that he had it for a couple of days. I told him that he would be on a plane tomorrow. He said, "I want to play." ... I said, "Oh no you're not." .... So we got him home and he was loaded with testicular cancer. He had to drop out of school and go back to St. Louis. He was a fine little player, a very nice young man.
Well, his mother called me and told me that he was near death. She said, "His dad and me decided we were going to ask him, ... Mark, if you had a last wish, what would it be?" ... He said, "Mom, I want to see my three best friends on the team."
His mom added, "I was embarrassed to call you. They are going to put on a fundraiser for us. We have put our home up for a second mortgage already, we just don't have money to get his three friends up here. Could you get them up here for this fundraiser?" ... I said absolutely! She also asked me if I would speak at the fundraiser? "Absolutely!"
So I hung up and I thought, "You know what? I've fought this NCAA. They would love to have me be proven a loud mouth Elmer Gantry." I called the NCAA office and I explained the situation, that the Governor has offered us to use his plane, free of charge. I asked them if I could fly them up there? That's not breaking a rule, is it? .... They said, "Yes it is".. By that time their book was about 500 pages. And he said, "That's called entertainment off campus." ... I told them, "Did you not hear me, this is one of our players who is dying and just wants to see his three best friends" ... "You can't do it!" he told me. I said, "Well they'll be there!"... He answered back with, "Are you turning yourself in?" .... I told him, "You figure it out!" and I hung up.
So I thought, What could I do not to embarrass the University? I didn't want to do that and get LSU in any trouble. But I'm going to get them there.
One night late in my office I found a red eye flight to fly them up there. I found them a motel near the airport. That was in 1981, to show you how cheap it was, the entire trip only cost $300 for each player. I didn't want the kids to see me calling each of them into the office. So that night I pulled my blinds down. After practice I told one to come see me at 7, one to come see me at 7:45, and the other to come see me at 8. In an envelope, I gave each kid, one at a time $300 out of my pocket. Instructions on how to get to their airplane flight and the motel.
So we got up there and it was my turn to speak. I got up and I thought, this is dangerous what I'm about to do. I said, "Would Andy Campbell stand up please. Joe Costello would you stand up. J. Brian Bergeron would you stand up." Mark was sitting on the stage and I said, "Mark, these are your three best friends. They're here today to tell you that they love you." Then I said, "And I'm here to tell you folks that the NCAA would not let me do this. I broke a rule and I paid their way to come up here." I didn't care if I got fired. Well it was so embarrassing to the NCAA, apparently they didn't dare do anything. .....
One last story so you can see why I fought the NCAA. I recruited one of the greatest potential prospects I've ever coached. 6'-11" from Bahia Blanca, Argentina. Hernan Montenegro. He came here with a two year old daughter and his wife. About four games into the season I get a call from a doctor's office. The doctor said, "Coach, we have a major problem. Hernan Montenegro and his wife are here and she's pregnant and the baby is breeched. I've got to get that baby out or the baby is going to die, or very well the wife could die." He said, "But they don't have any insurance at all." He said, "What should I do?" .... I told him, "Doc, just go ahead and get it done. What does it cost?" ... He said that he could give me a rough figure. 1985 I believe this was. He said it would cost something like $7,500. ... I told him to just do it, That I would handle it.
Now, again I call the NCAA and told them the situation. I said, "May I co-sign a loan to help them? He'll play professional ball. He's 6'-11" and can play every position on the court." .... "No you can't do that!" .... I asked, "Why can't I do that? A baby could die, and the mother could die." ... "That's NCAA rule, you can't do that. That's extra benefits." they said.
I knew an agent who represents people like Wynton Marsalis, and numerous musical entertainers. He didn't represent athletes. We're friends. I asked him, "Would you do me a favor? Would you come down and sign him and be his agent and then pay the money?" He said that he would do it. So he flew down, gave the family $10,000 for the operation, Thankfully the baby and mother lived. It would have been a NCAA violation had I done it, but Hernan lost his eligibility only after four games at LSU and still got drafted in the NBA by Philadelphia.
The NCAA is a dysfunctional organization, but their getting better, I'll give them credit for that. They've come millions of miles. But they have light years to go and light travels at 186,000 miles per second. They still have a long way to go. Although they have improved and I applaud them for that.
Oh, I have one more thing. The LSU Chancellor called me in. A very nice man, and said, "Coach Brown, I'm real worried. Your rhetoric against the NCAA is so tough. They may come in and try to take our football program apart and stuff, so I want to ask you. Would you consider lowering your rhetoric?" .... All I said to him was, "Mr. Chancellor thank you for your interest in the program. I've tried to do nothing to ever hurt LSU." ...
A week later I get a call from Sports Illustrated and they want to do a cover story. The writer came down, spent a couple of days and as he was leaving, he says, "Coach Brown, we've talked endlessly about this for two days. Just in a nutshell, how would you describe the NCAA?" ... I said, "They're gestapo bastards." Now that was in Sports Illustrated and by the way, I never got another call from the Chancellor to tell me to lower my rhetoric.
The truth is the truth. 2+2 is 4... It's not five. It can't be six. It won't be three. It's the truth. I wasn't going to do anything
special. However had they found out, .... I'm still sort of shocked to be honest with you. I exposed myself in St. Louis. Certainly I broke the rule and they didn't come after me. I guess it was too controversial. But if they would have had a chance, they would have done it, and they tried to do it with a fake payment to Lester Earl. So I guess you can say that I don't respect the NCAA. Is that a pretty good definition of it?
Everybody is making money off kids and some of them come to us with battered tennis shoes and no proper clothes. They have nothing. Then the NCAA brainwashes them by telling them that they have a scholarship, wanting to know why are complaining? The NCAA is making billions of dollars and Coaches are making millions. It's insane. It's not fair.
For five years beginning in September of 1983, I initiated a letter writing campaign, totaling five letters, all targeting the NCAA's 1,200 college presidents, chancellors, athletic directors, faculty representatives, head football coaches, head basketball coaches, and conference commissioners of Division I schools and also to the staff of the NCAA suggesting massive reform in the NCAA.
I had 43 recommendations that should be changed. Terrible rules! Terrible! This isn't Russia, It's the United States. At the time I was known as a Maverick. 30 of the 43 have now been changed.
My dear friend Dr. Harry Edwards, who is one of the greatest civil rights icons of all-time and a brilliant man. He told me one time and it stuck with me. He said, "Silence has always been evil's greatest ally." ... and that's true. People are scared to speak up against the NCAA. They don't want to loose their big time money. But if they did? What if they get investigated? .... Whenever good and evil compromise, evil always comes out the winner.
Q - So you got the LSU job in 1972. I know the year before you arrive, Collis Temple Sr. became the first African American to play basketball for LSU. Would you tell us about how yourself, the school, and teammates handled the beginning of integration?
Coach Brown - I deeply admire the selection committee, which consisted of Ned Clark (a former basketball player), Two men that are dead now. One was a professor at LSU, Bob May, an oil man named Warren 'Rusty' Brown, and Carl Maddox the AD. They were really classy and in the final interview, before they were going to make the decision, one of them asked me, "We've had 14 of 18 losing seasons over the last 18 years. Why should we hire you? Why are you any different?"
My answer was, "Well, I'm not sure you should hire me. The reason why I'm not sure you should hire me, no one has asked me what my philosophy is. So let me tell you what it is, then that will be a decision you all will have to make.
Number one, I'll do everything in my power to bring in good young men. I'll do everything in my power to build this
program into a powerhouse." I said, "Also, if you hire me, you may have an all black team. You may have an all white team. You may have an all foreign team. Or you may have a combination of all three. Because I'm going to recruit human beings first and basketball players second."
My wife told me to call her right after the interview. There weren't cell phones at that time and I was on my way up to a State tournament up in Alexandria, Louisiana and on the way up there I thought, "Oh I forgot to call my wife." ...
So I saw a little town coming up called Bunkie, Louisiana. I go into a drug store and ask if I could use their phone. There was a phone booth, it cost me a nickel I remember. I called my wife and I told her what happened. I can remember what she said. "Dale, Dale, Dale, ....You got no chance at getting that job. A kamikaze pilot in the Japanese air force would have a better chance."
Well, to show you the kind of men they were, a week later, they asked my wife and I to come back down and gave us the job. I could not of had a finer Athletic Director then Carl Maddox. You talk about honorable, brilliant, fair. And the City of Baton Rouge, even though things weren't as smooth as it could be, you could see them come around once the program did became integrated and when we did bring in players. It wasn't easy. It took time. It took time to get a black athlete to visit because numerous ones told me, Elvin Hayes was one of them. He wanted to come to LSU. He wrote them a letter, they didn't even contact him.
Some fathers of the players we were recruiting, told me he wouldn't send his kid to LSU, because he wanted to go there and they wouldn't recruit him. However, that broke down and the city absorbed them. Things changed a lot, even though there was some mean things that forged on in the background, Baton Rouge, Louisiana is basically a good place.
Albert Einstein, who they say is probably the most intellectual man who ever lived, summed up life perfectly. He said, "It isn't the evil people that bother him. It's all the good people that don't do anything about the evil people."
So there's really some good souls. They hired our players for summer job and during the Holidays. Just nice people. So things slowly changed.
Collis Temple. You talk about who should have a statue? He should have a statue. All the things he had to go through early, hate mail, death threats. He was an honor student. An honorable, good man. Came from a great home. There was a lot of sacrifice made. He was the one who had the courage, intellect, and energy to become a successful business man and is now a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Q - After you got the job at LSU, you started to go from town to town trying to introduce the basketball program. Hanging basketball nets outside of any homes that had a goal. Can you explain to us how you came up with that idea?
Coach Brown - Very good question. I'll tell you how that happened. After the most magnificent offensive player in the history of the game, Pete Maravich left here, everything went south. No one wanted to come to the games. They hired a no name coach from North Dakota, why would they want to come?
So I thought, "I'm going to have to promote this team somehow." I had an idea, I was reading a magazine. I can't remember which one it was, but there was a sales ad in it for a company in Korea that was making purple and gold nets. We had a very small budget so as a result I paid for the nets.
My assistant, Homer Drew's wife, Janet Drew, wrote a poem for us to include. We called it, the Tiger Safari. It read, "This is a net from the purple and gold, for a sport that will never grow old. LSU wants you to know, they want you to join the Tiger Safari." .... We put that in the bags with our schedule, our business card, and the net.
We met on the weekends, the two assistants of mine. We had maps and we would go to different parts of the State. Where ever we saw a outdoor basketball goal, we would go to the door, knock, tell them who we were and give them the little plastic bag. They might have thought we were crazy. But Sports Illustrated picked it up and ran a nice story on LSU basketball.
Q - Some of your recruiting trips are considered to be legendary. Any recruiting stories you would like to share?
Coach Brown - I would pick two. ... The State Department during the Berlin Wall Crisis was trying to intimidate the
communist. They sent over 90,000 troops and amassed them on the East German border to intimidate them. "We're not leaving here! We're going to send over some troops!"
Well the State Department asked me if I was start in Southern Germany and work my way up to Northern Germany speaking to the troops. .... "Absolutely I would.".... I got to the last spot up in the mountains to a place called Wildflecken. I finished my lecture and was packing my bag enthusiastic because I'll be home before too many more hours.
I get a tap on my back and this young guy, maybe 6'-9", 250lbs, stuttering, "Coach, Coach, Coach Brown." he said, "I'll be trying out for the team here. I can't dunk a ball. and when I run up and down the court about three or four times my lower extremities tire. Can you show me some exercises?"
I said sure and asked him if he had weights here? He said, "No we don't." ... I said I'll show you some non-resistance exercises so you don't need weights. I said, "How long have you been in the service soldier?" ... He smiled and cupped his hand over his mouth and he said, "Coach I'm not in the service. I'm only 13 years old." ... I asked, "How tall are you?" ... "I'm 6'-9"" ... I said, "What size shoe do you wear?" .... He said "Size 18." .... I asked him, "What are you doing here?" .... He said, "My dad is a career military man." .... I said, "I want to meet him." .... He replied, "He's in the sauna."
So we headed to the sauna and just as I was opening it, he burst out, big towel around his neck, sweating profusely ... "That's my dad." What his dad did really impressed me. I handed him my business card and I said, "Sergeant, if your son ever develops into a player," and I'm just jabbering a lot. He's looking at my card kind of with almost disdian looking over the top of it. Then he puts his hand out and he said, "I'm not trying to be rude coach, I want to see my son get educated. If your interested in that, and he develops, we may be interested."
So I got back to Baton Rouge, and sent away a training program immediately. Six weeks later I got a letter from Germany. "Dear Coach Brown, I did everything you told me to do and my high school coach cut me off the team. He told me that I'm too slow, that I was too clumsy, I have too big of feet and that I'll never be a basketball player. He told me that I should be a soccer goalie. Coach Brown, what should I do?"
I sat behind my desk and I thought, what kind of a profound statement am I going to make to a 13 year old child that just had his heart broken. Heck, I've been doing the same thing about my life. I wrote him a letter handwritten. almost word for word.
"Dear Shaquille, I'm so sorry what happened to you. But every time in my life, when I heard someone say, "He doesn't have a dad. They're on welfare. His mother isn't educated, He'll never make it." ... I said, "I tried the following and it worked for me, and I bet if you try it, it will work for you. It's very simple. If you always try to do your very best, and only you will know that, and you never give up under any conditions. Sooner or later, God will take care of everything else."
Well I'm not naive enough to think that little sermon that I wrote in that one page letter, but years later he told me that's why he didn't quit. He told me his mother sent him to their outdoor mailbox in the snow in the mountains. While he was walking out to it, plowing through the snow, after being cut from the team, he had made up his mind that he was just going to go into the Army. He said he opened up the mailbox and on the way back home he read that letter and that made him not quit. Like Paul Harvey would say, "And that's the rest of the story."
I have one more to share.. Maybe the best big man I've ever seen play. He never played in college. He was on the Russian Olympic Team. His name was Arvydas Sabonis. This 7'-1" player was destined for greatness. I said, "Man how can I recruit him?"
So I did some research and I found out there was an American by the name of Armand Hammer. He was the most popular American with the Russian Government, now how am I going to get in touch with Armand Hammer?
Well I found out who his best friends were. I knew two of the friends, so I called them and asked them if they could talk to him to get me into Russia to meet this kid. Well low and behold they did it. Well, he was very close to coming here. Actually he made a commitment on the telephone that he wanted to come through an interpreter. He didn't speak English at the time. But when they got back from the World Games in Spain, they got the news and he disappeared. Of course he never made it here. He did make it to the Portland Trailblazers. His son played at Gonzaga.
Q - Can you tell us a little about the 1981 Final Four Team?
Coach Brown - We won 26 straight games. We were the first team in history to win 17 SEC games. We had one game left at Kentucky, lost in the last second by a point. Won the League easily going away. We were ranked 1 & 2 in the nation most of the year.
Rudy Macklin broke his finger in the Regional game in the Super Dome. He was our star, our best shooter, best rebounder, best scorer. The captain of the team. When we got to the NCAA tournament in that Final Four, he just wasn't himself. Indiana could not of beaten us in my opinion if he had not been injured.
Q - Can you tell us a little about everything the 1986 Final Four Team had to go through during that season?
Coach Brown - Do you have any Kleenex? That team, we lost three centers. 7'-1" Zoran Jovanovich got in a car accident, had knee surgery. He was done. 7'-1" Tito Hartford, he broke a rule, I suspended him. He was done. Then he left town and transferred. Next was one of the most unfair things to happen while I was at LSU. Now we have Nikita Wilson, 6'-8". We were 14-0. The rules say at LSU that if your an athlete and you're on a scheduled road trip and you miss a test, you can take the test when you get back within a week. Well we were on the road, he missed a test, he went to take it. A teacher I believe who was from Malaysia, I'm not sure, would not let him take the test. He told Nikita, "No, no, no, no, you can not take the test." ... and he didn't speak really good English. But it went through and the University didn't back it. It was a rule created by the University. They declared him ineligible. So now we've lost three centers. We've got no centers. I had to use 6'-6" Rickey Blanton, who had never played the position. Thank God for that young man.
Then, we got the chickenpox. I mean everything that could go wrong, went wrong. So now instead of being 14-0 like we were, our record was kind of mediocre. We were an 11th seed. Never in the history of college basketball has an 11 seed gone to a NCAA Final Four. We did and we were a half away from winning it. We lead Louisville at halftime in Dallas., this Cinderella team was just burned out.
Q - With all the players that you lost off of the 1986 Final Four team, your team in 1987 was just seconds away from a second straight trip to the Final Four. Tell us a little about that?
Coach Brown - They were six seconds away from the Final Four. We had the last shot which would have won the game and we didn't. Indiana won and moved onto New Orleans where they won the national championship.
But you know what, that's all hindsight, they say, bla bla bla bla... You've got to live with all those things. I was blessed with a lot of last second victories too. In the Super Dome, the largest crowd in college basketball, Ricky Blanton putting in that last second shot. I was blessed in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center when Ricky Blanton hit the three from the corner with four seconds left to beat UNLV 88-87.
It just balances off, that's life. There's no sense in moping, whining, or complaining. Everybody is going to have adversity. But how you handle that adversity is what happens. The choice you make makes you. Some of the most miraculous things I've ever seen have come from people with no arms or legs.
Q - What was the Freak Defense?
Coach Brown - I'm glad you don't know what it is because most people don't. It all started when I was coaching a Catholic high school in Minot, North Dakota called Bishop Ryan.
We went to Williston, North Dakota to play this team and they just knocked us out of the arena. We couldn't do anything, their center just dominated us. That summer I thought, "We got to play that kid again." .. By the way that kid's name was Phil Jackson. The Phil Jackson.
So I was like, How in the world, how is it possible to ever beat him? I was at a Barnes & Noble and I picked up a book by Sun Tzu, a Chinese General, a warrior. 2,500 years ago he wrote a book about the Art of War. What attracted me to that, I don't know. But I picked that book up and I started reading it, and I thought, "Holy Mackerel! Maybe I can change some things in basketball the way he did." ... For example he said, "When you face a superior opponent, you must confuse him and you will neutralize his excellence." and he also said, "All warfare is based upon deception." .... So the more I kept reading this book, I'd said, hey.... I remember another page, he said, "It's often possible by adopting all kinds of measures of deception to drive a superior enemy into the plight of making numerous mistakes."
I said, "What am I going to do about this?" ... I went to the school. We didn't have copy machines at that time. We had ditto machines. With a ditto machine you only get one copy at a time. So I had hundreds of courts made up. I thought, what could I do? I've got to have a defense that confuses people.
This is just it in a nut shell. When the ball is passed into the right hand side of the court, you play a man-to-man. .... When it's passed to the middle of the court, you play a 1, 3, 1-trap zone, .... When it's passed into the left side of the court, you play a 2-3 matchup zone. That's pretty simple.
Now, when your opponent calls time out because they think they have it figured out. Now you do what we call, "Flip-Flop." You just change the rules around. When the ball goes to the right hand side, you don't play man-to-man, you play the 1,3,1-trap zone, .... When it goes to the middle, you play 2-3 , .... When it goes to the left, you play man-to-man. ....
I'm not going to try to confuse you because we confused many opponents. Now, when I cross my arms, that means now that I'm going to show them a number. If I hold up a one, that means we are going to play a Box-in-one defense. ... If I hold up two, that means were playing a triangle & two. .... It really really confuses people.
John Chaney, my dear friend at Temple. I think they were 32-1, ranked second in the nation. We played them in Chicago in the Regionals. One of the media asked him, "What do you think about Dale Brown's Freak Defense?" .... He said, "What do I think about Dale Brown's Freak Defense? Man, the only freaks I see are in alleys in Philadelphia." .... Most people would laugh it off.
We gave Kentucky the worse defeat in the history of their school, at Kentucky, in Rupp Arena by 34 points. The Freak Defense was involved. It sounds more complicated then it really is.
For example, we're playing a team, and I don't want to embarrass the team. They ended up going to the
national championship. Well they're ahead of us by a few points and their coach calls timeout. So they are walking by our bench and their center and guard get into a problem. "Damn it, their playing man-to-man!" ... "No they're not playing man-to-man, they're playing zone!" .... I said to my guys, "Listen, We got these guys right where we want them. Now we're going to go the other way." .... We changed the whole thing by listening to them talk. It sounds much more complicated then it is.
Q - Can you tell me who gave the Assembly Center the nickname, "The Deaf Dome" and who came up with the idea of hanging the Deaf Dome crowd noise meter from the ceiling?
Coach Brown - I starting calling the PMAC Deaf Dome, and then I came up with the idea for a noise meter to help create extra excitement at the games.
Q - Can you tell us a little about the recruitment of Chris Jackson (Mahmoud Abdual-Rauf)?
Coach Brown - Everyone in the Country wanted him. He came from a poverty stricken family, worse then mine. A nice, beautiful young man. I love Chris Jackson, Mahmoud.
The credit for recruiting Chris Jackson has to go to one of my assistants, Craig Carse. Craig had a wonderful relationship with him. Gave him dignity. Would drive down to see him. Would even talk about home work with him and anything besides basketball. He felt very comfortable with us. One of the greatest human beings I've ever been around in my life and one of the greatest player.
Q - Your recruiting class with Chris Jackson, Stanley Roberts, and Shaquille O'Neal has to be one of the most talented teams you have ever assembled?
Coach Brown - That team your speaking of, they only played one year together. Which was difficult. Mahmoud went pro, Stanley went to play professionally in Spain, which only left Shaquille.
I did not do as good of a job as I could have done. It was the most talent I ever had. I thought I did better with lesser talent. So I blame myself. I probably should have not used a double low post for two reasons. 1 - It would have kept one of the big guys out of foul trouble, and #2 - It plugged up the lane a little too much for Chris. I think it was a combination of things. They were young. They didn't have leadership skills at that time. It was two freshmen and a sophomore.
Q - Towards the end of you career between 1993-1997, that must have been a difficult and frustrating time?
Coach Brown - It was a combination of things that made it difficult. The hardship draft was encouraging players to leave early. Ineligibilities... Injuries.... Suspensions.... But in the end, you can't wimp and you can't whine about it. You take winning for granted. Losing is a monumental thing. It's not fun to loose, particularly after having as much success that we had.
Q - During your final season in 1997 all of the other SEC schools showed you their appreciation of your career, honoring you before games. That must have been pretty special?
Coach Brown - That was really nice and very touching.
Q - I know you keep in touch with your former players. Do you ever get together with them in person for reunions from time to time?
Coach Brown - I try to talk to all my players. All 160 of them. I know where they are all located and their families. But the get togethers are a little more difficult because people are getting older, going their ways.
The Universities I think should take more action to do that. Let them bring players back. Because some people probably have a 9-5 job making minimum wages. They can't get in a airplane and come from Australia or where ever else they are. It's much harder to get everyone together.
I'd like to close on this. This is not being modest. This is not being humble. Never ever, not one second of my coaching career did I ever dream of being the SEC Coach of the Year. I never dreamed about being a National Coach of the Year. I never dreamed about being in the College Basketball Hall of Fame. They were never goals of mine. All I wanted to do, .... I know what it did to me, it was a father substitute for me. It gave me an education. It gave me discipline. It taught me team work. I just wanted to help kids along the way.
All the stuff that's glitter, that's meaningless. If my team was #1 in the nation or last in the nation, my emotions for them are no different then the other team. As long as they did their best. The very few players. Very few, that I ever had to suspend, I stay in touch with them. So anyone who may see this who is interested in coaching, I think it's fairly simple, and I've coached for 44 years. Players really do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care. When you care, they figure that out. You can't fake kids out for very long. There can be some guys you can fake out during recruiting, and you're this nice guy and do this.
But I've been blessed by 160 young men who believed in each other, LSU, Louisiana, and our system. I had some good assistants. Three of my assistants are now in the College Basketball Hall of Fame, Tex Winter and Homer Drew, while Bob Starkey is in the Women's Assistant College Basketball Hall of Fame.