P.J. Tucker’s hook was blocked by Thomas, but Tucker chased the ball down in the corner. He passed off to Kenton Paulino, the hero of Thursday’s victory over West Virginia, but he missed a jumper.
Two LSU players failed to corral the loose ball near midcourt and Paulino got it back, only to have his jumper swatted away from behind by Garrett Temple. The ball went Texas’ way again — right to Daniel Gibson, who made the tying 3 with 32 seconds left.
LSU squandered three chances to win in regulation. Davis had a mental blunder, firing up a wild 3 off an inbounds pass that didn’t hit anything. Thomas got the rebound, but his baseline jumper was blocked by LaMarcus Aldridge. The ball deflected off the back of the goal, giving the Tigers one more opportunity.
They swung the ball around to Temple, but his open jumper from behind the arc barely hit the rim before time ran out.
LSU bounced right back from that disappointment. The Tigers won the jump and Tasmin Mitchell scored on a lay-in. Texas turned the ball over, and Temple scored off a double-pumping banker from beneath the hoop. The Longhorns threw the ball away again, and Davis clinched it.
Texas, which dominated the lane in its buzzer-beating win over the Mountaineers, faced a much more physical team in LSU. The Longhorns were outscored by an astonishing 38-10 in the lane and had only a slight edge on the boards, 45-42.
Texas couldn’t overcome poor games by its two leading scorers. Tucker was held to 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Aldridge, a 6-10 center, was dominated in the head-to-head matchup with Davis, making only 2-of-14 shots to finish with four points.
“It’s tough when your big man can’t score,” Tucker said. “He just missed them, but he kept playing.”
Gibson led the Longhorns with 15 points and the unheralded Buckman chipped in with 13. Paulino, who beat West Virginia with a 3-pointer, went 0-for-5 from outside the arc this time, settling for 10 points.
Overall, Texas made 21-of-69 from the field — a dismal 30.4 percent. Barnes credited LSU’s defense, which limited top-seeded Duke to its lowest point total since 1996 in a 62-54 upset Thursday.
The Tigers were equally stifling against the Longhorns.
“They turned in an outstanding defensive effort,” Barnes said, “both inside and out.”
When it was over, LSU gave the Georgia Dome a bit of Mardi Gras feel. Davis wrapped a feathery, gold boa around his neck, grabbed a microphone and let out a “Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaah!” that he hoped could be heard all the way back in his home state, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
“I wanted to give a shout-out to the people of Louisiana,” Davis said. “I wanted to give them some motivation ... give them a good feeling about their state.”
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