BATON ROUGE, LA., JAN. 26 -- Mike Hansen learned to love the three-point shot while playing basketball in Europe. Now he's getting a chance to demonstrate his long-range prowess in the United States.

While LSU's opponents concentrate on stopping 7-foot-1 center Shaquille O'Neal, Hansen is finding himself open on the outside.

The sophomore guard was seven-of-10 from three-point range at Tennessee on Tuesday, but O'Neal and forward Vernel Singleton had off-nights as the 16th-ranked Tigers lost, 92-89.

"It's a lot more physical here than it is over there," said Hansen, the son of an American father and Spanish mother. "They push and all, but it's not as much an inside game as it is here. Here, they like to crash and take it inside, first. There, they'll take the three-point shot before they'll take a layup.

Hansen played three years in high school in Spain and was on the country's national junior team. He was chosen Spain's MVP and all-Europe before finishing his high school career at University Heights Academy in Hopkinsville, Ky.

He was a 43-percent three-point shooter at Tennessee-Martin as a freshman before transferring to LSU and sitting out last season. He's shooting 44 percent from long range this season, but hopes for better.

"I shoot a lot better than that in the summer and at practice," Hansen said. "It's going to start falling for me. I've been shooting some three-pointers wide open, and I've missed."

Hansen, who has two more years of eligiblity at LSU, says that next year he will be known as Hansen Mejias, adopting the Spanish custom of using his mother's maiden name.

"I have dual citizenship, and both ways are legal," said Hansen, who plans to play for the Spanish national team this summer and hopes to play for Spain in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Hansen says the biggest adjustment from European basketball is the faster pace.

"They have great shooters {in Europe}, but the quickness and the athletic ability is what they lack," he said. "They make up for that in team play. They're very smart without the ball.

"I got a lot quicker than I was. I'm not saying I wasn't quick, but it's quickness with the ball that's the most important thing in basketball for a guard."