KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – LSU plays a hot Tennessee Vols team tonight in Knoxville with tipoff slated for 6:00p.m. on ESPNU.
The Tigers enter the game with a record of 15-8 and 6-6 in the SEC. Tennessee is 14-10 this season and 6-6 in the SEC as well. The Vols have won three in a row, while the Tigers have won five of their last six games. The teams are tied with Georgia for seventh entering the final three weeks of the regular season.
LSU is coming off wins at South Carolina, 64-46, last Thursday and then came home Saturday for an 80-68 win over Mississippi State in which LSU had as much as a 20-point lead before the Tiger starters were removed. Johnny O'Bryant III had two double doubles in the games, including a career high 30 points at South Carolina, to become the league leader in double doubles with 11. O'Bryant III flirted with a triple double against State as he had eight assists.
The Tigers are expected to keep the lineup they have settled into in the last few games with Anthony Hickey (11.7 ppg, nation's leader in steals at 3.3 a game), Andre Stringer (10.7 ppg) and Malik Morgan (5.4 ppg) at guards, with O'Bryant III at forward (13.0 ppg) and Andre Del Piero (4.3 ppg) at center.
LSU head coach Johnny Jones believes playing at Kentucky will help the Tigers tonight, "I think the good part that this team has had an opportunity to experience that at Rupp Arena (at Kentucky), a huge arena, and it was obviously filled there with a great atmosphere. I think Thompson-Boling arena presents the same type of task there with the big open space, but I think it's great that our guys have had an opportunity to play in that type of venue already."
Speaking of Kentucky, Tennessee dominated the Wildcats 88-58 Saturday and it got Jones' and the Tigers attention. The coach said, "I thought Tennessee came out and played exceptionally well on both ends of the floor. They shot the ball, I think about 57 or 58 percent, for the game. They did a great job in terms of rebounding the ball. They defended well. They had two things working. You obviously have Kentucky coming off of a game and playing in their first game without Nerlins Noel, who is their best player and one of the best players in the country. That shock and having an opportunity to play on the road against a team that is excited, fired up and playing as well as Tennessee, I think there was a combination of things that created that atmosphere. Tennessee is a team who is very capable and got off to a great start. They do a great job of taking the ball to the basket, mid-range game and playing in the lane. When you take away that shot blocker (Noel) from them, that's what Kentucky has geared their defensive pattern around all year long, it makes it extremely tough for you. I thought Tennessee really benefited from that."
The Vols have also defeated South Carolina and Vanderbilt on the road in their present win streak.
Three players – Trae Golden (11.0 ppg), Jordan McRae (13.8 ppg) and Jarnell Stokes (12.5 ppg) average in double figures. Stokes is right behind O'Bryant III in double doubles in the league with 10. Golden scored 24 points and had eight assists in the Kentucky win with McRae adding 15. Tennessee was a perfect 5-of-5 from the arc.
Source: LSU Sports