OXFORD, Miss. - The LSU men's basketball team tries to find success on the road for a second straight Saturday as it takes on the Ole Miss Rebels in Tad Smith Coliseum in another early Southeastern Conference contest.
The game is set for a 12:47 p.m. CST tip and will be televised on the SEC Network and ESPN3 (Louisiana affiliates: Alexandria: KLAX-DT; Baton Rouge: WAFB; Lafayette: KADN; Lake Charles: KVHP; Monroe: KARD; New Orleans: WUPL; Shreveport: KMSS) and broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge).
The teams are much different from when they met in the conference opener back on Jan. 7 when LSU took control of the game at the outset and won easily, 81-55. LSU was missing Johnny O'Bryant III who had busted a bone in his non-shooting hand three days before in practice and reserve forward Malcolm White was out following the death of a family member. Ole Miss was missing star Murphy Holloway because of injury and others due to rules violations.
In the game, post players came up big for LSU with Justin Hamilton getting 23 points and 16 rebounds, while Storm Warren also doubled up with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Ole Miss had no players in double figures.
O'Bryant is back for the Tigers and is White and both made significant contributions Wednesday night in LSU's win over Georgia. O'Bryant is expected to start at forward (8.4 ppg), with Hamilton at center (13.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg). LSU will go with its guard trip of Anthony Hickey (9.3 ppg, 3.8 apg), Andre Stringer (10.5 ppg) and Ralston Turner (9.1 ppg).
Three Ole Miss players average in double figures - Terrance Henry at 11.9 points per game, Holloway at 11.0 and Nick Williams at 10.0.
LSU (17-10, 7-6 in the SEC) has won four straight games and five-of-the-last six while Ole Miss (15-12, 5-8) has lost its last three games against Vanderbilt at home and at Kentucky and at Tennessee. The Rebels last win came against Auburn on Feb. 11, 61-54.
The Tigers 61-53 win over Georgia on Wednesday was significant in that LSU's 17th win assures that the Tigers will have a winning overall season in 2012. The Tigers need one more SEC win to assure a non-losing season in the league.
In the Georgia game, LSU held an opponent under 60 points for the 15th time in 27 games this season and LSU now has a record of 14-1 in those games.
LSU will return home for its final home game on Wednesday night against Tennessee. Tickets are on sale online at LSUtix.net. Follow LSU basketball on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball and @LSUCoachJohnson.
Thursday, LSU Coach Trent Johnson met with the media and here are some of his comments:
HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON
Opening Statement ...
"Ole Miss is a much different team than the team we played the first time. They didn't have [Murphy] Holloway and also they were going through with the suspensions. The thing that has always impressed me about this team this year, and I'm talking about Ole Miss, is how physical they are, how athletic they are and how at times they can be so dominant from a rebounding standpoint. They play exceptionally well at home, but watching their tape versus Tennessee last night on the road, and watching their tape versus Kentucky on the road earlier, I mean, they can really bring it. We're going to have to physically and mentally probably be at our best more so than we've been in a long time. We're going to watch video tape today, probably not practice, come back (Friday) morning and go hard in the morning for two hours. Then, we'll be on the bus to head up to Ole Miss. It's real important that we have fresh legs, and we be prepared for the physical contest. We're going to have to do an extremely good job on the glass."
On if there's anything he can be learn from the first LSU-Ole Miss game tape this season ...
"I haven't watched any of that because, again, they're a much different team and we're a much different team too in regards that we didn't have Malcolm [White], we didn't have Johnny [O'Bryant III]. I go back to, for me at this time of year, you want to be in a situation where you evaluate a team and get your team prepared to play. You want to see that team [the opponent], from this standpoint, on their home court or watch them play in the most adverse situation possible. That is at Kentucky, that is at Tennessee. They compete. They're big, they're strong and they're a very imposing team physically."
On if last Saturday's road win against South Carolina gives the team more confidence ...
"I don't think there ever was a doubt that we could win on the road, if you asked the kids. South Carolina is different than Ole Miss, [it's] a different match up. This team has had a level of confidence about them for a long, long time, whether it's been on the road, whether it's been at home. I think what you have to evaluate, and this is based off of facts not any hearsay or speculation. What you have to evaluate is your opponent and your ability to always do the things that you're capable of doing, and play with a level of confidence through adversity. We know, and the players know, although we haven't watched tape and they haven't heard from me yet that if we don't rebound or we don't play hard and match this team's energy, we're going to have a tough time regardless of what happens on the offensive end. This is a different team than South Carolina."
On what Ole Miss' Murphy Holloway brings to the game ...
"He is very physical, very competitive and he rebounds it. He really rebounds. [Reginald] Buckner [too], there's about four or five of them. [Terrance] Henry, again there's some strength, there's some athleticism. I think one of the things that have always worried me about guys like that is he's big, he's strong, he's athletic. But mentally and physically, he brings a lot of toughness to the table. So, it's going to be a premium Saturday afternoon, with guys putting a body on a guy, blocking out, guys sticking their nose in there. For example, when they're in a man defense, we run a lot of big-on-little screens. Andre [Stringer] is going to be set in situation where he's going to have to come and set a baseline screen on [Murphy] Holloway. So, your will to compete, your ability to be mentally tough and continually set that screen is going to be tested because he's going to pop you, in a good way in basketball terms. You know everyone talks about mental and physical toughness. Well, mental toughness is doing what you're supposed to do all the time and being consistent about it regardless of who your opponent is. Physical toughness is being physical with an approach regardless of who your opponent is. That's doing it at all times and being very consistent about it.
On Andre Stringer's performance against Georgia ...
"I'm very, very happy, just from the standpoint that I understand this group as a team, this group as individuals, how much time they put in to it, and how important it is to them. Andre, Anthony [Hickey], everybody on this team, we're trying to get to a point where we're really, really consistent and continue to get better. So, I'm very happy for him."