March 23, 2006
ATLANTA (AP) - No need for LSU and Big Baby to cry in this NCAA tournament.
Glen "Big Baby" Davis, a shot-blocking freshman and the rest of the Tigers are one win away from the Final Four after J.J. Redick and top-seeded Duke stumbled again in the round of 16.
Davis scored 14 points despite foul trouble and freshman Tyrus Thomas swatted away five shots, leading No. 4 seed LSU to its first regional final since 1987 with a 62-54 upset of Duke on Thursday night.
Redick, a favorite for player of the year, had one of his worst games in the finale of his college career. The Duke guard made only 3-of-18 shots, his shooting woes dooming a team that got a big performance from its other star, Shelden Williams.
Also playing his last college game, Williams went out with 23 points and 13 rebounds. But Duke (32-4) didn't have nearly the balance of LSU (26-8), which won the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship and has its sights on an even bigger title.
The Tigers advance to meet either Texas or West Virginia in the Atlanta Regional final Saturday. Those teams played in the second game Thursday.
Redick got his last basket, a 3-pointer off a screen with 3:32 remaining, to give Duke its final lead at 52-51. But that was about the only bright spot in a grim night for the usually sharp-shooting senior, who has done this all before.
He had only five points in a loss to Kansas in the 2003 regional semifinals. Duke faltered again at the same point in the tournament last year, losing to Michigan State with Redick managing only 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
This time, it was freshman Garrett Temple who frustrated Redick, preventing him from getting many open looks at the basket.
After Redick's final hoop, LSU outscored the Blue Devils 11-2 the rest of the way, going ahead for good on Davis' free throw with 2:32 remaining. Thomas came up huge in the final minute, making two free throws with 43 seconds left, dribbling through two defenders for a dunk nine seconds later, then rejecting a shot by Greg Paulus that essentially finished off the Blue Devils.
Thomas also led the Tigers with 13 rebounds.
Darrel Mitchell, who also had 14 points, made two free throws with 25 seconds left and Davis scored his final four at the line, even rebounding his own missed free throw to get back for two more attempts. The big guy looked longingly at the ball and patted it like, well, a baby.
The Tigers won despite making only 12-of-23 free throws and playing much of the second half with Davis and Thomas trying to stay in the game with four fouls.
LSU hasn't been to a regional final since losing to Indiana 77-76 nearly two decades ago. Not even Shaquille O'Neal, who played three seasons in Baton Rouge, could get the Tigers past the second round of the NCAA tournament.