BATON ROUGE - The LSU men's basketball team draws a tough foe for its opening home Southeastern Conference game as it plays host to the nationally-ranked Florida Gators Saturday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The game will tip at 3:05 p.m. and will be nationally-televised on ESPNU. The radio broadcast will be available on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.).
Tickets are still available online at LSUtix.net. A large walk-up crowd is expected and tickets will go on sale at the upper concourse windows of the Maravich Center beginning one hour prior to tipoff at 2 p.m.
LSU students with their valid ID are admitted to the game free of charge. This game will mark the debut of LSU's newly renamed student group, the "Roar Corps." Prior to the game, the Acme Student Lounge will be open on the east side's outer upper concourse of the Maravich Center.
The game is also the annual Gold Game and fans are urged to wear gold and magician JP Wilson will be the halftime entertainment.
Florida enters the game ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press poll and No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and won its SEC opener easily at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville, 77-44, over Georgia on Wednesday night. Florida shot 52.7 percent overall (29-of-55) and made 12 treys to jump out to a 28-15 halftime advantage and then post 49 points in the second half.
Mike Rosario led the Gators with 19 points, while Patric Young added 11 and Casey Prather 10. The Gators had 17 assists and just seven turnovers in the contest that ran their overall record to 11-2.
LSU dropped its third game in 12 starts (9-3), 68-63, at Auburn Wednesday night to fall to 0-1 in the league. LSU rallied from a sluggish start to take a one-point lead, 28-27, at intermission. LSU scored the first five points of the second half to go up 33-27, but couldn't sustain things until late in the contest as Auburn took back control and built a double figure lead.
"I thought we didn't get off to a great start (Wednesday, but I thought we did a great job in terms of finishing the (first) half extremely well, going into the locker room with a one-point advantage," Coach Johnny Jones said. "I thought we did a great job establishing ourselves early in the second half during the first few minutes. We came out scoring, and we got defensive plays on the other end to get a six-point lead. Throughout the game, I thought we had some lapses there and didn't do a great job in terms of handling (Auburn's) run there in the second half.
"I thought defensively, although we played great in the first half, putting a lot of pressure on them, I thought in the second half we gave up some second chance opportunities, easy scoring opportunities and a couple of fast break baskets. I thought on the offensive end of the floor, we weren't as fluent as we needed to be. Unfortunately, we winded up taking some early three-pointers, or what I call ill-advised early in the shot clock. We didn't manage well, and we are going to have to do a much better job of that."
Kenny Boynton leads the Gators in scoring at 13.3 points per game, while Rosario comes in at 12.3 and Young 10.8 for Coach Billy Donovan who is 11-8 all-time in the series versus LSU. His Gators have won the last three in the series.
LSU is expected to go with the three guards - Stringer (11.8 ppg), Carmouche (10.3 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Hickey (10.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) - with Johnny O'Bryant III at forward (11.4 ppg) and center Andrew Del Piero (4.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg). Shavon Coleman comes off the bench as the team's leading scorer at 13.3 points per game.
"Moving forward to Florida, we are playing not only one of the best teams in the SEC but one of the best teams in the country," Jones said. "They are very experienced and very tough. They have great size, strength and quickness. They have the ability to shoot the ball and rebound it. I think they are one of the teams that have the type of experience and all of the facets of a team that makes those late runs in March. They are actually playing that caliber of basketball right now. We know that we have a tough task on our hands for Saturday."
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