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Men's Basketball: LSU too much for UCI

Anteaters pull within three in final minute, but untimely miscues help them squander chance for upset.

December 18, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
  • UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner reacts to a play during the second half against LSU in a nonconference game at the Bren Events Center on Tuesday.
UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner reacts to a play during… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

IRVINE — With a team more identified for determined defense and rebounding than putting on a offensive show, UC Irvine men's basketball coach Russell Turner is plenty entertaining in and of himself.

Stalking the sideline, removing his jacket, scratching his head over his team's miscues, and exhorting – always exhorting his Anteaters – Turner, at least a couple times each half, outdoes players 20 years his junior, when it comes to expending energy.

It wasn't exactly energy the host Anteaters lacked in a 66-60 nonconference loss to LSU on Tuesday. But Turner seemed to have a pretty good idea about what areas in which his team was deficient in its first home setback of the season.

"If you had told me we would have held [the Tigers] to 66 [points], I would have told you we would have won tonight," said Turner, who lamented his team's occasional lack of assertiveness against an Southeastern Conference brand of defensive quickness that is scarce in the Big West Conference.

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"The difference in the game, clearly, was their ability to steal the ball from us and convert their steals into fast-break points," Turner said. "When we got to half court, we guarded them really well. We are probably the best defensive team they've played."

LSU (7-1), which posted its first road win in two tries, had a 10-0 advantage on fast-break points and a 21-12 edge in points off turnovers. It forced 17 turnovers while committing 11, which helped it overcome a 50-43 rebounding deficit against the 'Eaters.

The Tigers used an 8-0 run to build an early lead after the hosts (5-7 after experiencing their first setback in four home games this season) took their only lead at 3-2.

LSU led by as many as 13, but UCI pulled within three twice after intermission, including 62-59 with 48 seconds left on a Daman Starring three-pointer. But as seemed to happen every time UCI put together a string of success, it sabotaged its upset hopes with a turnover, a missed shot, or a missed rebound opportunity, often prompting a visible reaction from Turner.

"I've got to be careful about that, because I'm excitable," Turner said of his demonstrative sideline behavior. "Our guys are playing hard. The thing that frustrates me are the mistakes we make that we are focused on not making. That's what I get rowdy about. I hope my guys know that. I think they know that's my motivation."

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