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Davis, Thomas lead LSU into first Final Four since 1986

ATLANTA (AP) -- With a trip to the Final Four at stake, LSU's
baby Tigers turned to the biggest Baby of all.

Glen Davis found a clearing at the top of the arc, lifted his
hefty body off the court and softly spun the ball toward the hoop.

His only 3-pointer of the NCAA Tournament hit nothing but net.

The portly but nimble player known as "Big Baby" scored 26
points, including the decisive shot in overtime, to lead LSU to its
first Final Four since 1986 with a 70-60 victory over Texas in the
Atlanta Regional final Saturday.

"It's called thinking without thinking," he said. "The
opportunity was there to make the shot. Most of the time when I'm
shooting 3s, I'm thinking about it too much. I was just in rhythm,
I felt it was a great shot and I made it."

Freshman Tyrus Thomas added 21 points and 13 rebounds. Like
Davis, he's a homegrown Tiger, raised practically in the shadow of
the LSU campus.

When the horn sounded, Davis marched to the front of the
scorer's table, faced the gold-and-purple-clad contingent and
saluted. Then he let out a huge scream, pounded his massive chest
and was mobbed by Thomas, who was named the region's most
outstanding player.

The final margin wasn't indicative of a game that was close all
the way. The lead changed hands 11 times, and there were seven
ties. No one had a double-digit lead until the end.

But No. 2 seed Texas (30-7), which was trying to become the
first Division I school to win national titles in football and
men's basketball in the same academic year, fell apart in OT. The
Longhorns were down seven by the time they got off their first shot
of the extra period.

Fourth-seeded LSU (27-8) turned to Davis -- the Southeastern
Conference player of the year -- to finish off Texas. The 6-foot-9,
300-plus-pound sophomore does most of his work bangin' on the
inside, but he stepped outside to make just his sixth 3-pointer of
the season.

"He's got such a feathery touch," Texas coach Rick Barnes
said. "He's physical, but it's his skill that really impresses
you."

The Tigers led 59-52, and Texas never got closer than five the
rest of the way.

"When Glen hit the 3, that was the turning point," said Darrel
Mitchell, the only senior in the youthful LSU lineup.

Indeed, Davis' nickname is most appropriate for this group,
which includes three freshmen starters. Most of them have known
each other since they were kids. They grew up together, went off to
school together and now they're heading to the Final Four together.

"We're like brothers," Mitchell said. "Brotherhood and
togetherness."

LSU, which has never won a national title, will face UCLA next
Saturday in the national semifinals.

In regulation, Davis hit a soft, turnaround jumper in the lane
just before the shot clock expired to give the Tigers a 52-49 lead
with 1:04 remaining.

"Big Baby, he's just a load down there," said Texas forward
Brad Buckman, who spent part of the game guarding Davis. "Some of
his moves are incredible."

Texas tied it after a wild sequence that epitomized the frenetic
pace of the game, which was sloppy at times but thrilling all the
way.

P.J. Tucker's hook was blocked by Thomas, but Tucker chased the
ball down in the corner. He passed off to Kenton Paulino, the hero
of Thursday's victory over West Virginia, but he missed a jumper.

Two LSU players failed to corral the loose ball near midcourt
and Paulino got it back, only to have his jumper swatted away from
behind by Garrett Temple. The ball went Texas' way again -- right to
Daniel Gibson, who made the tying 3 with 32 seconds left.

LSU squandered three chances to win in regulation. Davis had a
mental blunder, firing up a wild 3 off an inbounds pass that didn't
hit anything. Thomas got the rebound, but his baseline jumper was
blocked by LaMarcus Aldridge. The ball deflected off the back of
the goal, giving the Tigers one more opportunity.

They swung the ball around to Temple, but his open jumper from
behind the arc barely hit the rim before time ran out.

LSU bounced right back from that disappointment. The Tigers won
the jump and Tasmin Mitchell scored on a lay-in. Texas turned the
ball over, and Temple scored off a double-pumping banker from
beneath the hoop. The Longhorns threw the ball away again, and
Davis clinched it.

Texas, which dominated the lane in its buzzer-beating win over
the Mountaineers, faced a much more physical team in LSU. The
Longhorns were outscored by an astonishing 38-10 in the lane and
had only a slight edge on the boards, 45-42.

Texas couldn't overcome poor games by its two leading scorers.
Tucker was held to 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Aldridge, a 6-10
center, was dominated in the head-to-head matchup with Davis,
making only 2-of-14 shots to finish with four points.

"It's tough when your big man can't score," Tucker said. "He
just missed them, but he kept playing."

Gibson led the Longhorns with 15 points and the unheralded
Buckman chipped in with 13. Paulino, who beat West Virginia with a
3-pointer, went 0-for-5 from outside the arc this time, settling
for 10 points.

Overall, Texas made 21-of-69 from the field -- a dismal 30.4
percent. Barnes credited LSU's defense, which limited top-seeded
Duke to its lowest point total since 1996 in a 62-54 upset
Thursday.

The Tigers were equally stifling against the Longhorns.

"They turned in an outstanding defensive effort," Barnes said,
"both inside and out."

When it was over, LSU gave the Georgia Dome a bit of Mardi Gras
feel. Davis wrapped a feathery, gold boa around his neck, grabbed a
microphone and let out a "Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaah!" that he hoped
could be heard all the way back in his home state, still recovering
from Hurricane Katrina.

"I wanted to give a shout-out to the people of Louisiana,"
Davis said. "I wanted to give them some motivation ... give them a
good feeling about their state."