LSU Will See More Of Mitchell
Alabama opened SEC play with a surprising 66-49 victory over LSU in Baton Rouge on January 9. Crimson Tide freshman Tony Mitchell played only 11 minutes. He scored six points and pulled down five rebounds.
LSU can expect to see more of Mitchell when the Bengal Tigers take on Bama at 7 p.m. CST Wednesday in Coleman Coliseum.
Mitchell had started five of six games before becoming ill and has been in the opening lineup the past two games. In Bama's last outing, an upset of 23rd ranked Mississippi State, Mitchell had a season-high 12 rebounds.
For the year, the 6-6, 185-pound forward from Swainsboro,Ga., has played in 17 games and averaged 21 minutes per game. He has averaged 9.2 points and 5 rebounds per outing.
In the last two games, Mitchell has played 32 and 29 minutes.
"I think Tony has had a great freshman year," Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said. "There are a lot of very good freshman in this league and he may be overshadowed somewhat because of what some of the other freshmen are doing. Prior to missing a couple of games with mono, I thought he was really establishing himself and playing well. I think since he's been back he's picked up where he left off, and I think with every game he gets a better feel in terms what he can and can't do and what's needed. I think Tony has a bright future. He's a guy with his size and athleticism and what he can bring you, whether it be offensively with his slashing ability or on the defensive end with his ability to make hustle plays, rebound and guard a couple of different positions, I think he's got a very, very bright future ahead of him."
Alabama's victory over Mississippi State improved the Tide's record to 12-7 overall and 2-3 in SEC games. LSU, defending SEC champion, had gone from first to worst. The Bengal Tigers are the only league team winless in conference play. LSU is 9-10 overall and 0-5 in league games with three of those SEC losses coming in Baton Rouge.
Alabama's Tony Mitchell is still not a household name. He plays in the shadows of more prominent Tide players, notably guards Mikhail Torrance and Senario Hillman and inside player JaMychal Green.
LSU has a Mitchell, too, and he is the leader of the Tigers. Senior forward Tasmin Mitchell, 6-7, 245, has had double-doubles in four of his last seven games and is only three rebounds short -- one in each game against Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida -- of having a seven-game streak. He had a season-high 38 points and 10 rebounds against Auburn, then came back with 16 points and 11 boards against Ole Miss.
Tasmin is averaging 17.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Against SEC competition he is averaging 19 points per game and has connected on 51.4 per cent of his field goal attempts. He was held to 11 points by Bama in the earlier meeting.
Grant said, "I think he's one of the better competitors in college basketball. I've really been a fan of his since his freshman year, my last year at Florida. I think he's a guy that brings great energy and a great competitive spirit to the game. I think that's what you've seen out of him over the last couple of weeks. He's really upped his productivity to give his team a chance to win. I think he had a 38 point game somewhere in between the last time we played them. I think he's top three or four in the league in scoring and top two or three in the league in rebounding right now. He's a great player, can hurt you in a lot of different ways, has really expanded his game to where he's shooting threes and he's obviously strong and physical on the inside, so he's poses a problem in a lot of different areas on the offensive end and defensively. He's a veteran. He's been around the game for five years and he makes plays just from anticipation that can be very disruptive. I think he's obviously the leader of their team and I'm sure he'll be ready to go. He's a great competitor."
LSU does not have great depth. In the last two games both Mitchell and guard Bo Spencer played the entire 40 minutes. Mitchell was averaging 38 minutes per game before his marathon performances.
Spencer averages 15.3 points per game for the Tigers and forward Storm Warren averages 13.5.
"This is frustration," LSU Coach Trent Johnson said. "We have to find a way to win a game. I don't care who, when or where we play. We have to find a way to win the game."
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