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Defense douses Duke

LSU forces J.J. Redick into one of his worst shooting nights ever and stuns the No. 1 Blue Devils 62-54.

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published March 24, 2006


ATLANTA - LSU freshman guard Garrett Temple understands his job isn't the most glamorous in the world.

"I'm not the first, second, third or fourth option on the team offensively," he said, "but I can help my team win by getting defensive stops."

Boy, did he.

On the grandest stage of his life, the Sweet 16 against top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Duke, he even made it look mighty chic, shutting down and frustrating J.J. Redick as few had ever done.

He and his teammates held Redick, the nation's second-leading scorer, to 11 points on dismal 3-of-18 shooting as the No. 4-seeded Tigers upset Duke 62-54 Thursday night at the Georgia Dome in the Atlanta Region.

The last time the Tigers (26-8) beat a higher-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament was in 1987, also the last time they advanced to the Elite Eight. Temple wasn't even a year old then.

They did it with a physical, aggressive, relentless defense that limited Duke (32-4) to its fewest points since Jan. 10, 1996, its fewest NCAA Tournament points since 1980 against Penn and by far its worst shooting percentage (27.7 percent) all season. It was averaging 49 percent and hadn't shot below 40 percent.

"That may have been the best defensive effort that I've seen one of my teams have," LSU coach John Brady said.

It began with Redick and the guy who drew him.

"We knew we had to not let J.J. Redick get in a rhythm on offense, and we were going to double team him off every ball screen," Brady said. "Garrett was going to follow him around, force him out different sides of the screens that they set for him."

Temple, who said he knew his assignment as soon as his team eked out a win against Texas A&M last weekend, watched extra film of Redick to prepare.

"I was a little more focused this game than other games," he said, adding that he had help from his teammates, who were told that when Redick looked as if he might break away for a clean look, they were to flock to him and force someone else to make a shot. "He made some faces, was fussing with the referees and actually threw the ball against the basket one time, so I had a feeling I was getting him frustrated."

"He's long and just a very physical guy," Redick said. "I had a few looks that were pretty good. Overall, he did a good job of contesting my jump shots and when I did drive, they had shotblockers (there)."

Redick finally hit his lone second-half field goal (on 11 shots), a 3-pointer, with 3:35 left to give the Blue Devils a 52-51 lead. But LSU answered with the play that would set the tone for the rest of the game.

Although senior guard Darrel Mitchell missed a jumper, freshman forward Tyrus Thomas managed to come up with the rebound, drew a foul and made a free throw to tie the score. LSU came up with three more offensive rebounds that led to four more free throws.

"We could have had a better offensive game, there's no question about it," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "But LSU had a lot to do with that."

Redick missed one more 3 with nine seconds left and, after a foul, Krzyzewski pulled him and fellow senior Shelden Williams (a game-high 23 points, but none in the final 7:41, and 13 rebounds) so they could have one last ovation.

You almost expected Temple to follow him to the bench.

"He may not get the recognition and things that he should get," Darrel Mitchell said of Temple, who earned the game ball for his play, "but (Thursday night) he showed how important he is to the team and how special he is."