No. 15 LSU stunned No. 5 Tennessee, 82-80, in overtime on Saturday to create a three-way tie atop the SEC standings and dent the Volunteers’ chances at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers (22-5, 12-2) came back from a nine-point deficit late in the second half to force overtime and pull off the stunner. Ja’Vonte Smart’s two free throws with one second left lifted LSU to victory. Smart, who finished with 29 points, was the team’s offensive lightning rod in overtime, scoring several key big buckets in the game’s final two minutes.
Tigers big man Kavell Bigby-Williams’ lay-up with five seconds left knotted the game at 80 to set up the game’s final last-second play that saw Smart draw a foul on Tennessee star Grant Williams.
LSU guard Skylar Mays, who finished with23 points, drained a game-tying three-pointer with 1:23 remaining in regulation and made two free throws with 44 seconds left in regulation to break the tie before Williams’ lay-up tied it to force the extra frame.
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The Tigers pulled off the upset without the services of star Tremont Waters, who leads the team in points and assists but missed Saturday’s game with an illness.
Admiral Schofield led the Volunteers (24-3, 12-2) in the loss with 27 points, as Williams struggled offensively early (finishing 5-for-14 from the floor) before coming on late.
The win hurts Tennessee’s bid for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Vols’ résumé is the third best behind Duke and Virginia, but now there’s room for fellow No. 1 Gonzaga or SEC challenger Kentucky to move up to the No. 1 line. Tennessee got hammered by Kentucky last weekend. That loss was its first setback since November. Now, the Vols have lost two of their last three.
LSU, meanwhile, bounced back from a loss to Florida earlier in the week and are probably still on the No. 4 line — with a chance to move up to a No. 3 seed — in USA TODAY Sports’ bracketology.