Smith's steal and score helps Tennessee edge Louisiana StateFeb 10, 2008 - 2:38 AM BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Ticker) -- It wasn't pretty, but flu-ridden JaJuan Smith and Tennessee held on against an emotional Louisiana State.
Wooden Award candidate Chris Lofton scored 15 points and Smith made a key steal and score in the final 12 seconds as the seventh-ranked Volunteers edged the Tigers, 47-45, in Southeastern Conference play on Saturday.
Tyler Smith scored 12 points and Wayne Chism eight for Tennessee (21-2, 8-1 SEC East), which earned the victory despite its lowest scoring output of the season.
The Volunteers, who captured their fifth straight win, needed JaJuan Smith's late heroics to escape with the road victory.
"We got the win, but we didn't play our best, and it wasn't good for us," Tyler Smith said. "We weren't executing, and we had some guys under the weather as far as our main defender in JaJuan. But at the same time, we can't use that as an excuse. We've got to fight through that stuff."
With the scored knotted at 45-45, JaJuan Smith stole the ball as the Tigers were working down the clock for a final shot attempt.
The 6-2 senior raced up the court and laid the ball in with 12 ticks on the clock to give Tennessee the deciding lead.
"JaJuan plays tonight, steals the ball and gets a basket," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "He couldn't be in there at the end. He was done."
Playing with a fever, JaJuan Smith had to go to the bench after hitting the go-ahead shot.
"It just shows you what JaJuan can do even though he's got a (101-degree) fever," Tyler Smith said. "Just look at how he came out on defense and got the winning basket for us."
It was the only basket of the game for JaJuan Smith, who was 0-of-7 from the field prior to the layup.
"As you see, he played 22 heroic minutes," Pearl said. "He had a 101 temperature, and we gave him some medication before the game that brought the temperature down a little bit, but he was quite ill. He made the play at the end to win it."
Tennessee shot a paltry 32 percent (19-of-60) but managed to snapped a two-game losing streak here.
"There's a lot about the game that I will have to study," Pearl said. "I thought we were resting on offense. Tonight, if it wasn't drawn up, it wasn't going in. Every basket was either out of a timeout, or a play call or a side set. We just got nothing."
LSU, which was playing its first game after coach John Brady was fired on Friday, had one more chance to even the score.
Alex Farrer took a baseline jumper with four ticks on the clock, but the shot fell short. Tigers center Chris Johnson, who scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds, pulled in the airball and attempted a last-second putback. However, his dunk came after the game clock reached zero.
"I thought I beat (the buzzer), but I tried to dunk it and that was a mistake," Johnson said. "I should have just put it in. Lesson learned."
Tigers assistant Butch Pierre, who took over the reins from Brady for the remainder of the 2007-08 season, tried not to do too many things different from his predecessor.
"I did a couple of things to try to motivate the squad," said Pierre of his first go at being the head man. "My wife (Clemmie) gave me some ideas. I did a couple of things and used a few quotes. I think that got their minds right and the coaches did a good job preparing them. It was a team effort by the coaches and the players."
Marcus Thornton had 12 points and eight boards for LSU (8-14, 1-7 SEC West), which shot 40 percent (20-of-50) in its first effort under Pierre.
"Every coach is nervous before a game," LSU forward Tasmin Mitchell said. "Coach Pierre was nervous just like the players were. Even when he was associate head coach, that's the way he felt. Today he approached things from a positive standpoint and did a lot of positive things pregame."
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
TENNESSEE (7) 27 20 47
LSU 24 21 45 FINAL
Feb 9 4:57 PM
- NCAA BB
(7) TENNESSEE 27
LSU 24 HALFTIME
Feb 9 3:52 PM
- Forward Lew Evans transferring from Utah State to Tennessee May 12
- Forward Ray Kasongo leaving Tennessee after 1 season Apr 21
- LSU coach: Guard Tim Quarterman leaving for NBA draft Mar 28
- LSU freshman Ben Simmons announces he'll enter the NBA draft Mar 21
- LSU coach takes responsibility for disappointing season Mar 15
- LSU coach: Tigers won't play in any postseason tourneys Mar 13
- Tennessee optimistic about future after rare losing season Mar 12
- LSU says Ben Simmons ineligible for Wooden Award Mar 5
- Tennessee's Kevin Punter Jr. to have season-ending surgery Mar 4
- Tennessee relying more on its freshmen late in season Feb 29
- Tennessee head coaches will hold rare joint press conference Feb 22
- Tennessee falls below .500, second-half collapses a concern Feb 1