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Updated: Sunday, December 22, 2002 1:25 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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LSU 66, (1) Arizona 65
ARIZONA WILDCATS
Arizona Wildcats
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LSU TIGERS
LSU Tigers
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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Ticker) -- The last time Louisiana State had something this big to celebrate, Dale Brown was storming the sidelines in bayou country.

The Tigers defeated a No. 1 team for the first time in 24 years, holding on for a 66-65 victory over Arizona, which nearly erased a 15-point deficit in the final nine minutes but suffered its first loss of the season.

"Of course, you are going to get even more excited to play Arizona because they are No. 1 in the country," LSU guard Antonio Hudson said. "We kind of used their ranking and things like that to get fired up. Everybody called us the underdogs, so that also helped."

The Wildcats (5-1) had a chance to win as Jason Gardner drove the lane in the final seconds, but LSU's Jaime Lloreda knocked the ball out of bounds with 0.5 seconds remaining.

Gardner attempted an olley-oop pass in the lane to Hassan Adams, but the ball was tipped in the air by LSU's Torris Bright, setting off a wild celebration as fans poured onto the court at the Maravich Assembly Center.

"I couldn't hear myself talk, it's so loud in there," LSU coach John Brady said. "What a great place to play basketball."

It was LSU's first win over a top-ranked team since Brown's Tigers beat Kentucky, 95-94, in overtime on February 11, 1978.

"This game puts us back on the map," LSU forward Ronald Dupress declared. "We have gone through scholarship trouble and have had lack of depth. This game was for the fans. It was time for us to win big and get this town excited about something, and hopefully we did it tonight."

Hudson had 20 points for LSU (7-1), which extended its non-conference home winning streak to 43 games. Hudson made 7-of-14 shots, including three 3-pointers, and grabbed nine rebounds.

"The reason we play in tough places is to learn from it," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "We have always played a tough schedule and played in tough places. The reason is so we can get ready for January and February."

Lloreda had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Tigers, who held on despite making just 10-of-28 shots in the second half. LSU finished at 44 percent from the field (23-of-52).

Dupree chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds for the Tigers.

"I think we won this game because of a great effort by our team and by committing to defending and rebounding the ball," Brady said. "I'm excited for our fans, for them to be able to witness that, and it was just a great night for basketball at LSU."

Again playing without injured star Luke Walton, Arizona shot just 34 percent from the field in the first half and missed its first 13 shots in the second, falling behind 42-28.

The Wildcats were held to a season low in points, eight fewer than their 73-point effort against Texas.

"Luke would have obviously made a difference tonight, but when you don't have someone, you have to make due without," Olson said. "I would say the biggest thing we miss when we don't have Luke is leadership."

Gardner paced Arizona with 16 points, while Adams, Rick Anderson and Channing Frye each added 11.

LSU took its biggest lead, 49-34, on two free throws by Lloreda with 9:20 to play before Arizona stormed back.

"They had opportunities not to try to finish the game, but like any great team and like any No. 1 team, they played hard until the finish," Brady said.

The Wildcats closed to 66-65 on Andre Iguodala's jumper with 36 seconds left and got back the ball with 18 seconds to go after Frye stripped Lloreda.

Following a timeout with 12 seconds remaining, Arizona set up for a possible winning shot but never got the ball to the basket as Lloreda made the game-saving defensive play.

"That team was averaging 92 (points) a game and until we got a little fatigued at the end, we still held them to 65 for the game and 26 in the first half," Brady said.


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