LSU is the first team to make it to the the Sweet Sixteen after a driving layup by Tremont Waters with 1.6 seconds remaining gave the Tigers a dramatic 69-67 victory vs. Maryland in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
Waters' clutch bucket spoiled Maryland's comeback bid after the No. 6 seed Terrapins (23-11) rallied from 15 points down and eventually took the lead from the No. 3 seed Tigers (28-6) late in the second half.
Waters finished with 12 points on the day but went cold down the stretch as the Terps made their run. He was held scoreless for more than 10 minutes before LSU, playing for the last shot, gave him the rock with the game tied at 67 and let him go to work. He swerved from the left side of the court to the right, and finished a scoop in traffic to give the Tigers the victory.
"That's a play we call 54," LSU interim coach Tony Bedford, who has taken the place of suspended coach Will Wade, said on CBS. "All it is is a flat ball screen for [Tremont Waters], and it works against man or zone. He just came off of it, made a great play. Great players make great plays, OK? Tre executed it, and we wanted to make sure he took the last shot."
Waters' go-ahead bucket capped a tumultuous second half for the Tigers. They took a 39-28 lead into halftime and, at numerous times early on, were on the brink of potentially blowing the game open, at one time leading by as many as 16 early in the second half. But Maryland threw a curveball in the form of a zone that threw LSU off its game which allowed Mark Turgeon's Terrapins to climb back into it.
"That's a gritty Maryland team," Bedford said. "That zone, we didn't execute well against it, but we'll take the victory."
Maryland's stifling defense forced LSU to hit shots -- which it struggled to do down the stretch -- and dared the Tigers to go inside at their own peril. Against Maryland's dualing monsters inside, Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith, finishing at the rim proved challenging. Smith finished with five blocks.
In the end, Maryland couldn't find enough offense to overcome its early hole. The team shot just 21 of 63 from the floor, 9 of 28 from 3-point range, and committed 12 turnovers.