JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mr. Benford is going to Washington.
LSU point guard Tremont Waters calmly dribbled near the top of the key with the score tied as the final seconds ticked past 10 … 9 … 8 … 7 … and he took off. He dribbled to his right and to the goal, flipping it in for the layup with 1.6 seconds to go to give LSU a 69-67 win over Maryland Saturday afternoon and a trip to the Round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament’s East Regional next weekend in Washington, D.C.
Interim coach Tony Benford is 3-1 and the first LSU coach to reach the Sweet 16 since John Brady in 2006.
No. 3 seed LSU (28-6) will advance to play on Friday against the winner of Saturday night’s game between No. 2 seed Michigan State (29-6) and No. 10 seed Minnesota (22-13) that tips at approximately 7:45 p.m. ET on CBS from Des Moines, Iowa.
If Michigan State advances, the Tigers will play the Spartans for just the second time in history and first time since losing to Earvin “Magic” Johnson and company 87-71 on March 16, 1979, in the Mideast Regional semifinal in Indianapolis.
Michigan State went on to beat Notre Dame to reach the Final Four, where it defeated Pennsylvania, then Indiana State and Larry Bird for the national championship. LSU has never played Minnesota in basketball.
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Guard Skylar Mays led LSU with 16 points. Forward Naz Reid added 13, and Waters finished with 12 and five assists.
Jalen Smith led Maryland (23-11) with 15 points.
LSU led by 15 in the first half. Maryland took the lead late in the second half, and the game remained close till the end.