LSU welcomes in South Carolina

TSD's Ben Love previews tonight's LSU-South Carolina game, including a video interview with Johnny O'Bryant, projected starting lineups and background information on the Gamecocks.

After starting the SEC season with losses to Auburn and Florida, LSU (9-4,0-2) has a chance for redemption this week with matchups against two teams also winless in the conference.

The first of those meetings takes place in Baton Rouge tonight at 7 p.m. (ESPN3) when first-year coach Frank Martin leads South Carolina (10-5, 0-2) into the PMAC.

The Gamecocks finished non-conference play in good form, rattling off five straight wins before falling in each of their first two SEC contests by three points or less -- 56-54 at Mississippi State and then 74-71 against Auburn.

Johnny Jones' Tigers weren't as competitive on Saturday, falling to No. 11 Florida 74-52 three days after LSU lost its conference opener by five at Auburn.

Below are the projected starting lineups for both teams.

LSU (9-4, 0-2)
G Anthony Hickey(5-11, 178, So.) - 11.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.0 apg, 3.55 spg
G Andre Stringer (5-10, 182, Jr.) - 11.4 ppg, 2.1 apg, 41.7% 3s
G Charles Carmouche (6-4, 187, Sr.) - 9.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.8 apg
F Johnny O'Bryant (6-9, 258, So.) - 10.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 46.3 FG%
C Andrew Del Piero (7-3, 254, Sr.) - 5.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg

South Carolina (10-5, 0-2)
G Bruce Ellington (5-9, 197, Jr.) - 11.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 45.5% FGs
G Eric Smith (5-11, 205, Jr.) - 6.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg
G Brian Richardson (6-4, 175, Jr.) - 9.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 40.3% 3s
F Lakeem Jackson (6-5, 235, Sr.) - 9.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 61.1% FGs
F Mindaugas Kacinas (6-7, 210, Fr.) - 7.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 57.3% FGs

The Gamecocks have received a nice shot in the arm since Ellington returned to the hardwood six games ago. Steve Spurrier's offensive toy has smoothly converted to basketball mode and is showing little rust, playing 27.8 minutes per game and shooting 45.5% from the floor.

He's been sorely need after it was learned Jan. 5 that senior guard Lashay Page, 6-2, 195, would be out for the rest of the season due to an academic issue. Page started the team's first nine games of the season, averaging what's now a team-high 11.7 points per game to go with 3.3 rebounds per game.

Junior guard Brenton Williams, 5-11, 175, has also picked up some slack on the offensive end, albeit coming off the bench. The Florida native is averaging 11.5 points per outing while shooting 51.4% from the floor and a stout 45.1% from downtown.

Ellington and Williams will be the focal point for LSU front men Hickey and Carmouche, two players who combined average 5.63 steals a night in the Tigers' backcourt.

On the offensive end, LSU is spending most of its time adapting to life against zone defenses. After two poor-shooting games against SEC competition, the Tigers have talked all week about better ball movement and not just settling for jumpers.

For Carmouche and sixth man Shavon Coleman, that means shooting the ball more efficiently. Each first-year player was a big cog in LSU's 9-2 season, but each has also been going through a funk since conference play tipped.

Carmouche shot a combined 6-of-22 (27.3%) during the team's first two SEC tilts while Coleman wasn't much better at 7-of-22 (31.8%). For the tide to turn, two of LSU's top five scorers will have to revert to non-conference levels of play.

In the post, senior center Del Piero is coming off an effort in which he played a team-high 33 minutes. His contributions will be needed again Wednesday with O'Bryant still fighting through a nagging ankle injury.

South Carolina rotates three consistent rebounders into the game in Jackson (7.0 rpg), Kacinas (5.4 rpg) and freshman forward Michael Carrera (6-5, 212), who comes off the bench for Martin to average 9.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

TSD will have full coverage from the PMAC before, during and after first tip. Come back tonight around 7 p.m.


Also, in advance of tonight's game, TSD's Taylor Halsey caught up with LSU power forward Johnny O'Bryant.

The sophomore from Cleveland, Miss., updates his recovery from injury, playing better as a team on the offensive end and getting back in the 'W' column.

Click on the link below to view.

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