3:00 PM ET, January 14, 2007
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- LSU coach Pokey Chatman thinks her Tigers (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 5 AP) might be headed in the right direction again after a focused and intense 77-50 win over Mississippi State on Sunday.LSU struggled in its previous five games and suffered a three-point upset by Mississippi on Thursday that snapped a 10-game winning streak. But the nation's best defense held the Bulldogs without a field goal for more than 12 minutes in the first half and imposing center Sylvia Fowles scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds."It was nice to take a game plan ... from the film room to the scouting report to the walkthrough to the court from the get-go," LSU coach Pokey Chatman said."It was something that we've been desperately seeking."LSU, giving up 43.6 points a game coming in, contested every shot and forced 19 turnovers that led to 20 points in the Southeastern Conference win. Six Tigers combined to block nine shots and they held the Bulldogs to 32 percent shooting from the floor and 29 percent from 3-point range.Their defense was at its most frenetic in a 12:17 span in the first half during which the Bulldogs managed only four free throws -- including two on a Chatman technical.LSU (16-2, 2-1 SEC) built an insurmountable lead during that span with a 21-0 run that put it up 25-5 with 6:46 left till halftime.Mississippi State (10-7, 1-2) missed 17 of its first 20 shots and didn't pass the 10-point mark for 16:07. It was the worst defeat of the season for the Bulldogs, surpassing a 26-point loss to then-No. 13 Purdue on Dec. 16.The Bulldogs trailed by as many as 32 points and have lost 15 straight to the Tigers dating to 1994.It was Mississippi State's second straight loss to a ranked SEC team and No. 4 Tennessee is up next on Thursday. Coach Sharon Fanning hopes her team learned a few lessons in the loss to the Tigers because it won't get any easier at Knoxville."I felt like our main problem was slight intimidation," Fanning said. "You have to be able to fight through if your shots are not falling like they should be."Allison Hightower added 14 for LSU and Quianna Chaney scored 13. Lauren Roberts was Mississippi State's only player in double figures with 10.Fowles, a 6-foot-6 junior center, picked up the 46th double-double of her career and 11th of the season. She helped her team to 40 points in the paint and 18 second-chance points.For most opposing post players -- including Roberts -- Fowles is a daunting assignment."She's 6-6," Roberts said. "I'm doing good to get 6 feet most days."Despite her overwhelming presence, Fowles was resting when the Tigers went on the 21-0 run.Ashley Thomas and Khalilah Mitchell each hit a 3-pointer and scored five points during the run, which began with LSU trailing 5-4.The Tigers defense didn't allow a field goal during the span. It was the second longest of the season for the Tigers, who held West Virginia without a basket for more than 14 minutes.But Chatman wasn't satisfied. Her team struggled in the five games preceding the win over Mississippi State and she still saw signs of the poor play that has been slowing down the Tigers."When you're not clicking on all cylinders, you can't even appreciate how that (kind of run) feels when you're striving for so much more than that," she said.