Felton: Tigers very athletic

ATHENS – Without meaning to, Georgia coach Dennis Felton created a minor stir on Monday's regular SEC teleconference.

When discussing tonight's opponent, LSU, Felton called the Tigers "one of the all-time most athletic teams in the country." That's right – "all-time" – and the Bulldogs' coach didn't back down later when pressed on that assessment.

"Oh yeah, they're freakishly athletic," he said. "They are leaps and bounds, literally leaps and bounds, more athletic than us."

Georgia (12-6, 2-3 SEC) will be trying for its second straight conference win and third in four games when it plays the Tigers (12-5, 4-0) tonight at 8 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

"I guess that's complimentary," LSU coach John Brady said. "I don't know how you react to that. I think we have good players who play well together. I don't know if you can say all-time. There have been a lot of great players and great teams that have been much more successful than this one."

The Tigers start a senior, a sophomore and three freshmen. Forward Glen Davis, a 310-pound sophomore who goes by the nickname "Big Baby", leads LSU with 17.9 points per game.

"He boggles the mind with what he's able to do at that size," Felton said.

Brady's counter?

"If there's a running and jumping contest, I don't believe Glen Davis is going to win many," he said.

It's two newcomers that really put the Tigers off the athleticism charts, though. Six-foot-9 freshman Tyrus Thomas is a fantastic leaper and leads the SEC in blocked shots (3.5 per game) and rebounds (10.2 per game). He is in the top 15 in the nation in both categories.

Thomas redshirted last year due to a neck injury and has blossomed into a player NBA scouts already are salivating about. He blocked nine shots and had 17 rebounds in a Jan. 14 victory over Tennessee.

"I think people are seeing Tyrus Thomas and thinking all of my players are like that, and I don't think they are," Brady said.

Fellow freshman Tasmin Mitchell isn't bad. The 6-7 forward might be "the best high school player in the country who didn't go to the NBA," Felton said. Mitchell, who averages 11.7 points per game and also has 48 assists, was Louisiana's Mr. Basketball and a two-time prep All-American.

Darrel Mitchell, a 5-11 senior guard, and Garrett Temple, a 6-5 freshman guard, round out LSU's starting lineup.

"Watch their game against Connecticut and watch how much of the game was played at the speed it was played and at the height above the rim it was played at," Felton said. "It will take just a very special performance by us to compete with them."

The most surprising thing about Brady's players is that he didn't have to scour the country to find them. All five Tiger starters grew up within 65 miles of Baton Rouge.

"I don't know if there's a team in the country that you (can say that about)," Brady said. "McKinley High School , where Tyrus is from, I can walk to the school. Garrett Temple and Glen Davis, I can walk three blocks up the hill, and their high school is on our campus, University High School."

Tasmin Mitchell is from Denham Springs, La., which is 10 miles from campus. Darrel Mitchell is the outsider. He hails from St. Martinville, which is 63 miles out I-10 from Baton Rouge.

"It's good for us to be able to have good players like that, and good players don't develop like that unless you have good high school coaching," Brady said. "It certainly makes it a lot easier."

Still, he's not willing to put them on any all-time list yet.

"Let's be honest, what are we? Twelve and five?" Brady said. "We've played 17 games. I think we ought to reserve those kind of judgments and statements to much later down the road."

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