Lamont Roland said he wasn't worried a bit when he stepped to the foul line with LSU clinging to a 3-point lead and 20 seconds left in the game.
Maybe not, but Roland's teammates were sure relieved when he sank three of four free throws and sealed No. 15 LSU's 71-66 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday.
"That's the first time I breathed an extra breath," Jabari Smith said. "The way Mississippi State was shooting 3s, those were big baskets at a big time, the biggest."
Mississippi State (13-14, 4-10) tied it at 63 with 2:57 left and trailed 67-63 with 38.5 seconds remaining.
The Bulldogs held LSU to just one field goal down the stretch, but State had no more luck scoring. Todd Myles made just one of three free throws to pull State within 67-64 with 26.6 left.
LSU, which has lost only once at home this season, got a boost when a personal foul was called on Mississippi State's T.J. Billups and a technical on coach Rick Stansbury, who left the coaching box to protest it.
Roland, who scored 18 points, made three of the four free throws and Smith's field goal offset a final Mississippi State basket by Antonio Jackson.
"That last 20 seconds it kind of got like a circus out there," Roland said. "Shooting the free throws was the easiest thing that happened. We had people grabbing the ball, falling on the floor, banging into each other. Just standing at the line was the easiest part."
Stromile Swift had 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots for LSU. Toris Bright scored 13 and Smith 11.
Tang Hamilton led Mississippi State with 16 points, Antonio Jackson had 14 and Michael Gholar had 10.
LSU lost the first game to Mississippi State on a 3-point basket in the final 30 seconds. For awhile, it looked like the 3-point basket would do in the Tigers again.
Mississippi State, which shot 33 percent from 3-point range going into the game, made 8-of-13 in the first half with Hamilton hitting 4-of-7.
"The 3-point line is a scary thing," LSU coach John Brady said. "And they are not a great 3-point shooting team."
The Bulldogs used 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range to cut LSU's lead to 28-25 with 8:28 left in the first half.
"We shot the ball the way we're capable of shooting," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. "The way we've shot the ball the last two games gives us the opportunity to take a step up as a basketball team."
State was down 29-28 when Hamilton hit a 3-pointer with 6:48 left. Hamilton's dunk put State ahead for the first time 30-29 with 6:32 left.
Mississippi State hit a four-minute dry spell and LSU led 35-30 with 2:18 remaining. Three-pointers by Gholan and Marckell Patterson put Mississippi State up 38-37 at the half.
The Bulldogs finished 11-of-23 from beyond the arc.
"If they wouldn't have hit those 3's we would have beaten them by 20 points," Smith said. "I was just glad Lamont gave us enough points to keep another one from killing us."
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