The Gamecocks, 22-9, will play the 18-9 Tigers in the second game of the Friday afternoon session beginning at approximately 2:15 p.m. CST. The game will be televised in the Baton Rouge area on WAFB-TV and syndicated throughout the region on JP Sports. The radio broadcast in Louisiana will be on the LSU Sports Network (Eagle 98.1 FM) and on the Internet at www.LSUsports.net.
The Tigers are coming off a 78-66 loss to Auburn on Saturday in the regular season finale and have lost five of the last six, 1-2 since the final decision on the status of Jaime Lloreda. The Gamecocks, playing without the injured Rolando Howell, snapped a two-game losing streak with the win and gives South Carolina three wins in the last nine games.
The Gamecocks and Arkansas battled over 2 1/2 hours in a game in which there were 59 fouls, 81 combined free throws, with South Carolina making 39-of-50. Mike Boynton hit five treys and made 17-of-19 free throws for 32 points. Tarence Kinsey added 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Carlos Powell added 13. Michael Jones had 15 to lead the Razorbacks.
LSU practiced on Thursday at Georgia State and then came to the Georgia Dome for the first time to watch the Arkansas-South Carolina game which the Gamecocks controlled almost from the opening tip, returning to their hotel headquarters midway through the second half. The Tigers had another spirited practice and will have one 45-minute session at the Georgia Dome Friday morning to close out preparations for the contest.
LSU Coach John Brady feels his team is coming back into its own. "We played well against Kentucky at home," Brady said. "We came back from a deficit to beat Ole Miss. We played well on the road versus Auburn, we just didn't make some timely stops that we needed. There's no question we've become the youngest team in the league, by far. I think our team has responded well. We've shown a lot of character and we're playing pretty good basketball. I like where our team is and I like the direction it's headed."
Where all LSU fans hope the team is head is to the NCAA Tournament, the team's second straight and the Tiger's fourth post-season appearance in the last five years. The bracket pundits still list LSU in the field of 65 and part of the seven teams from the SEC that will be invited.
SEC Freshman of the Year Brandon Bass continues to lead the Tigers, averaging 12.7 points per game and 7.2 rebounds a game, despite being constantly double teamed in the last three games, which included a double-double against Auburn in the last game. Darrel Mitchell continues to hit the three-pointers, making 6-of-9 three-pointers against Auburn and is averaging 12.1 points per contest.
The Tigers are 39-43 overall in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, 18-24 since the renewal in 1979. However, LSU is now 6-4 the last four years, advancing to the semifinals three of the last four years. The Tigers will put a four-year streak of winning the first game it plays in the tournament on the line against South Carolina. The Tigers are 3-6 in the Georgia Dome and this is the first time LSU has been the second seed in the SEC Western Division since 1993.
If LSU wins the game, it would play on Saturday at noon against the winner of the Kentucky-Georgia game in the SEC Tournament semifinals.