Healed twice over, Mickey ready to rebound

LSU big man Jordan Mickey has been ailing physically in recent weeks. He tells TSD he's prepared to return to previous form in the Tigers' NCAA Tournament opener Thursday.

PITTSBURGH - The wear and tear of a college basketball season, and logging major time on the court, took a toll on Jordan Mickey.

Several weeks before he fell on his back and shoulder during a home loss to Tennessee on March 4, the nation's leading shot-blocker wasn't quite right.

For the season he's averaged 15.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.6 blocks. But, in the last six games he's played in, the Dallas native has slumped to 9.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

What turned out to be the problem?

"It was a little bit of just a long season, playing that many minutes," leveled Mickey, who plays 34.8 minutes an outing. "I went and got some bloodwork done and it showed my iron was a little low. That was causing me to get tired, and it was causing me to be a little sluggish out there on the floor. So I got with my trainer, and we were able to get that fixed.

"He gave me some liquid irons to take once a day just to balance me back out and get me back to where I need to be."

The shoulder pain, stemming from the second-half fall against the Vols, is slowly fading into the rearview as well.

"I feel a little better," said Mickey, who deemed his shoulder to be at 95 percent following the SEC Tournament loss to Auburn. "There's no pain really now. I feel good. My shoulder feels loose. I'm ready to go."

His teammates see the same thing.

Tim Quarterman on Mickey: "I think Jordan is back. I think he's healthier. I don't know if he's 100 percent, but I think he's healthier than what he was. And I think he's just going to go out there tomorrow and play, not worrying about his shoulder at all."

And Darcy Malone: "Jordan is a hard-worker. He knows what he needs to do to make a big impact on our team. Lately he's been working almost twice as hard as normal just to ensure that this game isn't the last game of our season."

On that note Mickey, a first-team All-SEC performer, didn't express much concern about the lack of Big Dance experience for LSU on the eve of the Bayou Bengals' matchup with NC State.

"I mean it's basketball," he shrugged, when asked about only Keith Hornsby having NCAA Tournament experience. "My team would like to have a little more experience in the tournament, but I feel like we're a good enough team and we've played some tournament teams well. I just feel like we're confident enough that we're capable of doing some things when we play together, stick to our offense and play our rules."

The Tigers and Wolfpack tip tomorrow night at 8:20 p.m. Central Time in CONSOL Energy Center.

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