ATHENS, Ga. - The LSU men's basketball team looks to find the same magic on the road it found last week in Starkville when it travels here Wednesday to face the University of Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum.
LSU is 11-18 and 3-11 in the SEC West while Georgia is 19-9 and 8-6 in the SEC East still looking for positioning for the SEC Tournament and to possibly secure an NCAA Tournament berth.
LSU comes into the game off a 90-69 loss at home to Vanderbilt Saturday, while the Bulldogs were downing South Carolina, 64-48.
LSU has showed good offense against Mississippi State last week in Starkville, winning 84-82, and had a two-point, 43-41, lead over Vanderbilt before the Commodores took control of the game, shooting over 50 percent in the second half while LSU struggled to make shots. In the last two games, LSU has given up 172 points and had teams shoot 56 and 54.4 percent against them (combined 59-of-107).
But the Tigers got good performances Saturday from two players who missed or were limited in playing time in early SEC play. Storm Warren came out and his for a team-high this season and personal career best of 24 points on 12-of-20 shooting, while Ralston Turner posted 18. Turner continues to lead the team in scoring average both overall (12.9 ppg) and SEC play (11.6) and is one of just seven freshman to average in double figures in league play.
Georgia is under the direction of Mark Fox, a former associate of the LSU Coach at Washington and at Nevada, serving as assistant and later head coach at Nevada after Johnson left to take the head job at Stanford.
"I've been very fortunate and very blessed to be around some really good players and some really good coaches," said Johnson. "Mark's a very good basketball coach. When you see what's going on at Georgia and what happened at Nevada after I left, it speaks volumes to the type of person he is. There's a relationship there and a friendship there that's pretty special, but also when the (ball) gets thrown up, we're two very competitive and intense individuals."
The Bulldogs will be trying for the first 20-win season since 2002 and the most SEC wins since 2003 (9). Georgia is led by Trey Thompkins at 16.1 points and 7.6 rebounds a game after scoring a team-high 20 points in the Carolina win. Travis Leslie is averaging 14.3 points per game and recently the junior surpassed the 1,000 career point mark. Gerald Robinson is the other double figure scorer in the starting lineup at 12.4 points a contest.
"Georgia is very skilled and very talented and they are playing well," said Johnson. "Trey Thompkins is special. Obviously Leslie is as explosive an athlete as there is in our league. The guy that's made the difference for them is Robinson, he's come in and given them really great guard play. We are obviously looking forward to the challenge."
The Tigers close out the regular season on Saturday night at 6 p.m. the same way they started SEC play, facing Auburn in a game televised regionally by FSN. Tickets for the game are available online at LSUtix.net.
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