(12) Texas A&M 57

(22-9, 10-6 Big 12)

(4) LSU 58

(25-8, 14-2 SEC)

    5:50 PM ET, March 18, 2006

    1 2 T
    #12TAM 29 2857
    #4LSU 29 2958

    Top Performers

    Texas A&M: A. Kavaliauskas 12 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

    LSU: G. Davis 21 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

    Mitchell's miracle 3 vaults LSU into Sweet 16

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- LSU calls the play "special," and Darrel Mitchell ran it to perfection.

    With the clock running out on his team's hopes, the Tigers' lone senior made a long 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining to give the Southeastern Conference regular-season champions a 58-57 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday in the second round of the Atlanta Regional.

    "When he let it go, I just felt confident it was going in," LSU coach John Brady said. "I call him the silent assassin because he doesn't say much, but when it's time to deliver he can do that. He's hit seven or eight of those in his career."

    "Special" is designed to either create a scoring opportunity for SEC player of the year Glen Davis or an opener jumper for Mitchell, who took the biggest shot of his life after Texas A&M bit on a fake pick-and-roll and 6-foot-10 defender Antanas Kavaliauskas switched off Davis to guard Mitchell.

    The LSU guard took a couple of dribbles forward. When Kavaliauskas backed off, Mitchell launched a 22-footer to wipe out the 57-55 lead Texas A&M took on Acie Law's jumper with 19 seconds left.

    "It was really unexplainable. When I saw it go in, I saw we had a couple of seconds left, so I couldn't get as emotional as I wanted to," Mitchell said.

    "It was our two best players involved in the last play of the game with the game on the line. That's what I'm going with," Brady added. "It worked this time. You could probably do it other times and it may not work. But this particular case, we made a nice play."

    The victory sends fourth-seeded LSU (25-8) to the regional semifinals against top-seed Duke (32-3) on Thursday night.

    Davis led LSU with 21 points, including a key basket in the final minute. Mitchell finished with 16.

    The Tigers seemingly were in control when Mitchell made two foul shots for a 53-46 lead with 3:31 to go. But No. 12 seed Texas A&M (22-9), in the tournament for the first time since 1987, wasn't ready to go home.

    The Aggies wiped out the seven-point deficit over the next 91 seconds, then went ahead 55-53 on Joseph Jones' jump hook in the lane.

    "That's how it's been all year. Things ain't always going to go well for us," Law said. "Coach always tells us to stick with it, continue to fight, continue to fight. We played a bad game. We weren't ourselves tonight, but we continued to fight."

    The 6-9, 310-pound Davis, nicknamed "Big Baby," powered his way to the basket for a layup that tied it for the last time.

    Mitchell was 1-for-7 from behind the 3-point line, and LSU was 1-for-11 as a team, before he seemingly launched his game-winner in desperation. LSU's bench celebrated, but there was still time left -- especially with the speedy Law on the court for Texas A&M.

    Law had 23 points, 12 of them in the final 1:25, in the Aggies' first-round victory over Syracuse.

    But LSU did a good job of keeping the ball out of his hands after Mitchell's big shot -- going as far to push Law out of bounds when Texas A&M was inbounding the ball. The Aggies wound up not getting the ball past halfcourt on the final possession.

    "I wasn't fouled. It was incidental contact," Law said. "I wouldn't expect the referee to make that call in the NCAA Tournament second round with a chance to go to the Sweet 16. I wouldn't expect him to make that call to bail us out and I wouldn't expect him to make that call if they were in that situation. With the game on the line, let the players make a play to win it. I got tripped up and was unable to make a play to win it."

    Law finished with 15 points on 5-for-16 shooting. Kavaliauskas added 12 for the Aggies.

    The Aggies were in the second round of the tournament for only the third time, and their victory over Syracuse was their first in the NCAAs since their only trip to a regional semifinal in 1980.

    Despite the loss, the Aggies clearly have a program on the rise under coach Billy Gillispie, the former Bill Self assistant who inherited a team that was winless in the Big 12 and won seven games overall two years ago.

    "This will leave a sour taste in our mouths. But it doesn't take away from the year we had," Law said.

    "A lot of people didn't expect us to do what we did. We finished in fourth place and got 10 wins in the Big 12 and got our first Big 12 tournament victory. ... We had an outstanding year, but unfortunately for us, we didn't finish out the year the way we wanted to."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 57 58
    FG Made-Attempted 22-53 (.415) 19-54 (.352)
    3P Made-Attempted 6-13 (.462) 2-12 (.167)
    FT Made-Attempted 7-12 (.583) 18-23 (.783)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 12 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 5 12


    » Mar 18, 2006 @LSU 58, TAM 57Recap