BOISE, Idaho - The LSU men's basketball team made the long journey from Baton Rouge to Boise via the airports of New Orleans and Denver on Thursday in preparation for Friday night's 7 p.m. MST (8 p.m. CST) game with Boise State at Taco Bell Arena.
For the Tigers and head coach Johnny Jones, it will be the first time LSU (6-0) has gone on the road and what they will find is a Boise team having success under third-year coach Leon Rice. The Broncs are 6-2 on the season with a win at Creighton and a near miss at Michigan State. It is the first home game for BSU since Nov. 24 and the only game at Taco Bell Arena in 35 days.
The team was scheduled to practice late Thursday night at Taco Bell Arena and Anthony Hickey, who was suspended seven days ago for "violation of athletic department and university policies" has been cleared to make the trip, but his appearance in the game will be a game-time decision by Coach Jones.
There is no live television for the contest, but the scoreboard video will be available for subscribers of the Geaux Zone (Watch at www.LSUsports.net/live). The game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) with Jim Hawthorne and Ricky Blanton in Boise and Kevin Ford the studio host in Baton Rouge.
The teams are very different from last year when they met in Baton Rouge with LSU winning 64-45, something Coach Jones is well aware of when he was watching tape of the Broncs.
"Having the opportunity to watch those guys play, that's what I have to draw from what they've been able to do this year," said Jones. "Our style is a little bit different than what they would have played last year, and what they would have done offensively and defensively."
Most important is how the Tigers will handle a long span of three games on the road in nine days.
"We look forward to a great trip," said Jones. "These next two games on the road at Boise State (Friday) and UC Irvine (Tuesday), coming home for a day or so and then leaving back out to go to Marquette (Dec. 22) will be very challenging for us. It's something we look forward to preparing for a great and tough conference schedule."
Jones said he has seen the home-court work for his Tigers and now LSU has to guard against that happening Friday night for a Boise team that is expecting a lot of support on a day with lots of festivities on the campus on the eve of the annual bowl game that is held the next day at the nearby football stadium.
"For instance in the Seton Hall game, I thought our crowd played a huge role in our comeback because our guys were able to feed off of our crowd," said Jones. "I thought the adrenaline; the crowd played a special role in that. When you're on the road, that's something that you have to guard against. You have to be a good enough basketball team that when a team makes a run on you, how are you going to handle that? When you're making a run against an opponent, how are you going to handle it? Especially being in the confines of a place that is a little bit different for you. When you're at home, you have the comfort of sleeping in your bed, being in your locker room and playing in front of your fans. When you're out there on the road, it's totally different. Your schedule is somewhat thrown off. It takes a disciplined team to be able to go through those things, remain focused and win basketball games. That's the sign of a good basketball team and growth when you're able to win on the road."
After starting different lineups in each of the first six games, this may be the first time Jones goes with the same lineup as Andre Stringer will get the start at point for the second straight game along with Charles Carmouche. That may be the question mark of the lineup as Carmouche missed the second half of Tuesday's Chattanooga win after tweaking his knee. Malik Morgan should start at the third guard with Johnny O'Bryant III at forward and Andrew Del Piero at center.
Stringer has been in double figures each of the last three games, while O'Bryant III has been in double figures all five games he has played this year, six dating back to last year, and comes in off three straight double doubles.
Two Boise starters average in double figures with Derrick Marks averaged 18.6 points per game with Anthony Drmic posted 14.3 markers a contest. Boise has used the same lineup for all eight games and returned four of the five starters from a year ago and each of the top six scorers from a year ago.
After the Boise game, the Tigers will move on to Irvine, Calif., to prepare for the Tuesday night game against UC-Irvine.
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