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|LSU downs Butler|
The LSU Tigers defeated the Butler Bulldogs 75-71 Thursday afternoon in the first round of the South regional of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship tournament.
LSU will likely play top-seed North Carolina Tar Heels in the second round of the tournament on Saturday afternoon.
Marcus Thorton, the SEC player of the year, led LSU with 28 points and six rebounds and Tasmin Mitchell added 11 points to pace the Tigers.
Butler was led by sophomore forward Matt Howard with 22 points and eight rebounds. Butler and LSU battled for the lead throughout the second half. LSU did not grab the lead for good until under five minutes remaining in the contest.
Butler (26-6) went on a 7-0 run to begin the second half and pull the game to 41-40 as LSU looked to be in a daze.
In the first half, LSU began the game as hot as at anytime during their run to the regular season championship in the SEC.
Bo Spencer scored five points and grabbed a steal in the first 17 seconds of the contest as LSU quickly built a 9-0 lead before many had even taken their seats inside the Greensboro Coliseum.
One big key for the Tigers in the first half before Butler could find their own offensive rhythm was to get Horizon League player of the year Matt Howard in foul trouble on their way to an 11-point lead.
LSU (27-7) was also solid at the charity stripe as they made 6-of-7 attempts in the first half of the opening round game and LSU lead 35-29 as the teams went to the lockers.
Howard and teammate Shelvin Mack each scored eight points in the opening half of the game.
LSU almost let the lead slip away moments later as Butler moved to within four points with under eight minutes left in the first half.