Tennesse's 74-69 OT win at LSU, Feb. 29, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Tennessee continued its late-season surge with an impressive 74-69 overtime victory against LSU in a Southeastern Conference game Wednesday night.
The Volunteers, who never led in regulation, got nine points from Trae Golden in the extra period to come away with their seventh victory in the last eight games.
That means Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin is talking NCAA tournament with one game remaining in the regular season.
"I said it when we played Florida at home the first time," Martin said. "I said we were a NCAA tournament team at that point. I still feel like we're a NCAA tournament team. We've got to do our job and do our part, but I think we're a NCAA tournament team."
With the come-from-behind victory against LSU, the Volunteers (17-13, 9-6) remained tied with Alabama for fourth place in the Southeastern Conference standings. Tennessee and Alabama are just one game behind Florida and Vanderbilt, who are tied for second in the standings.
Golden's three-point play with 1:27 remaining in overtime gave the Vols the lead for good at 66-63. A basket by Johnny O'Bryant left the Tigers (17-12, 7-8) behind by one point. But, Cameron Tatum's field goal with 34 seconds remaining again gave Tennessee a three-point lead.
After Justin Hamilton missed a 3-point attempt on the Tigers' next possession, Golden made six straight free throws in the final 16 seconds to clinch the Volunteers' victory.
"It was just a great, great win for our program," Martin said. "We did a great job of accepting the challenge, making adjustments in the second half and finishing strong in overtime."
Tennessee took its first lead of the game when Tatum connected on a 3-pointer in the first 30 seconds of overtime. LSU tied the score at 63 as Andre Stringer made 3 of 4 foul shots on the next two possessions. There were no points scored again until Golden had his three-point play.
Jarnell Stokes was the leading scorer for Tennessee (17-13, 9-6) with 18 points. Golden and Jeronne Maymon each had 14 for the Vols, who trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half.
"We didn't have an offensive rebound or shoot a free throw the whole first half," Martin said. "Our big guys accepted the challenge. Jarnell is really just scratching the surface. He's finding his way and learning a new system against great and talented SEC players."
Hamilton led LSU with 17 points. Anthony Hickey had 12 points, while O'Bryant added 11. After shooting 52 percent from the field (13 of 25) in the first half, the Tigers made just 11 field goals over the next 25 minutes.
"That's painful," LSU coach Trent Johnson said. "We had great energy and played a really good first half. We had a lot of opportunities. We had a lot of shots that didn't go down for us.
"Defensively, we had a hard time guarding them in the post because we gambled. Stokes goes 9 out of 10 (from the field) and Maymon was everything he should be down the stretch. This was probably the toughest loss we've had this year."
The Volunteers, who trailed by 11 at the break, outscored LSU 11-2 to pull within two points with less than four minutes elapsed in the second half. Tatum converted a three-point play and Stokes made two field goals as the run left the Vols behind 37-35.
A basket by Stringer and a 3-pointer by Hickey enabled LSU to extend its lead to six points at 42-36. However, the Volunteers once again cut the Tigers' advantage to two points at 45-43. Maymon scored seven consecutive points during that stretch for Tennessee.
On the verge of losing its lead, LSU got a field goal from Storm Warren and another 3-pointer from Hickey to go on top 50-43 with 9:37 remaining in regulation. Less than a minute later, the Vols trailed by just three points after both Golden and Maymon sank two foul shots.
Tennessee finally drew even with the Tigers for the first time since the first four minutes of the game on a jumper by Stokes, tying the score at 57. LSU regained the lead on Hickey's third 3-pointer of the game.
The Volunteers knotted it again at 60, when Maymon, who had put Tennessee within one point on a field goal, made 1 of 2 free throws with 2:16 to go in regulation. Hickey missed a runner in the lane at the buzzer, forcing overtime.
LSU's four post players were responsible for nearly all of its offensive production while building a 35-24 halftime lead. On Senior Night, senior reserves Malcolm White and Warren were given starts. In the first half, White had seven points and Warren added six.
Hamilton and O'Bryant, the normal two inside starters, accounted for 15 first-half points. Hamilton had nine points and O'Bryant six. The four post players combined for eight rebounds and four blocked shots before halftime.