Hogs Down LSU to Earn SEC Tournament Champions
BY ANDRES FOCIL
ATLANTA, Ga. – Arkansas’ Cinderella run through the 2000 SEC Tournament continued on Saturday as the Razorbacks downed the No. 10 LSU Tigers 69-67 in semifinal action at the Georgia Dome.
The Razorbacks (18-14) earned their fourth straight win and their third straight over a ranked opponent to earn a berth in Sunday afternoon’s tournament championship game against Auburn. The Tigers defeated South Carolina in overtime on Saturday to advance to the championship round.
Freshman Joe Johnson sparked the Hogs in the first half scoring 12 of his 21 points in the first half while sophomore Brandon Dean scored 17 of his 20 points after the halftime intermission.
LSU (26-5) committed 25 turnovers and was outscored by eight points in the second half after boasting a six-point halftime lead. Stromile Swift led the Tigers with 13 points while Jabari Smith pitched in 12 points.
“We continue to show a lot of heart,” Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson said. “This team has had a lot go wrong this season, but they never gave up. Now we have one game to go to the NCAA Tournament.”
LSU and Arkansas traded the lead for much of the first half before the Tigers rallied for a six-point intermission lead. Arkansas responded early in the second half reeling off a 20-4 run to take the lead by 12.
The Tigers chipped away and when the LSU press forced a turnover with 1:28 to play Lamont Roland put in a lay-up to tie the game at 65-65. After Johnson put the Hogs on top by one with a free throw, Dean made a leaning one-hander in the lane with 21 seconds remaining to give the Hogs a three-point lead. Roland cut the lead to one with a putback with one second remaining. Dean then iced the game with a free throw with seven-tenth of a second on the clock to give Arkansas a 69-67 victory.
Arkansas advances to the SEC Tournament championship game for the second consecutive year and the third time overall since joining the league in 1992. The Razorbacks will face Auburn at Noon CT (1 p.m. ET). The winner will earn an automatic bid to next week’s NCAA Tournament.
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