LSU visits Okalhoma in NIT opener

NORMAN, Okla. -- The LSU men's basketball team went through a spirited 75-minute workout Tuesday night on the floor of the Lloyd Noble Center in preparation for Wednesday's first-round National Invitation Tournament game against the Oklahoma Sooners.

Tip time for the contest to be televised nationally on ESPN is 8:35 p.m. while the radio cast for the game in Louisiana will be available on the LSU Sports Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge).

The Tigers and Sooners will meet for the second time in the NIT, ironically, the first meeting was exactly 34 years ago March 17, 1970, when LSU beat Oklahoma, 97-94, in the quarterfinals of the then 16-team NIT with all games played in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Pete Maravich who poured in 37 points in his next-to-last college appearance for LSU led the Tigers.

In the 34 years since, the tournament has changed to a 40-team event with games played through the quarterfinals in the home arenas of participating teams before going to the Garden for the semis and finals. Once again, there will be a Maravich dressed out for LSU as youngest son Josh will be on the Tiger bench in uniform.

The Tigers and Sooners have played twice since then, once in Oklahoma City, about 20 miles from here, and in New Orleans at the Lakefront Arena with each team winning in their home state. This will be the first meeting of the teams in one of the home arenas.

LSU comes into the game 18-10 overall and 8-8 in the SEC, while Oklahoma is 19-10 and 8-8 in the Big 12. LSU lost to South Carolina in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, while Oklahoma lost to Texas in the Big 12 quarterfinals.

"We had two really good practices," said LSU Coach John Brady Tuesday evening. "Hopefully that will translate into our play in the game. We need to sustain our ability to score and defend for the entire 40 minutes and if we can do that, then we will have a chance to win the game and advance."

The winner of the LSU-Oklahoma game will play the winner of Tuesday night's game between Michigan and Missouri. That game will be scheduled for either Saturday, Monday or Tuesday and if LSU wins, the game will be played at the opponents home site because LSU will be hosting the first and second round of the NCAA Women's Tournament during those dates.

LSU is expected to go with its lineup it has used since Jaime Lloreda left the team of Xavier Whipple, Darrel Mitchell and Antonio Hudson at guards, with Brandon Bass and Darnell Lazare at the forwards. Bass, who has had four straight double figure scoring games since Lloreda left the team, is averaging 12.7 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per contest in earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Mitchell, second by half a point in three-point field goal percentage in the league at over 42 percent, is averaging 11.9 points per game and Hudson, after a career high 25 points showing in the Georgia Dome on Friday, is back in double figures at 10.0 points per game.

Oklahoma finished seventh in the Big 12 this season and missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years, but the Sooners now own the nation's longest current postseason streak (23 seasons) by virtue of their NIT bid. The Sooner of Coach Kelvin Sampson have also lost some players or late and are led by guard Drew Lavender at 11.5 points per game and Jason Detrick at 11.6 a contest.

This marks Oklahoma's seventh postseason NIT appearance with a 9-6 NIT record while LSU is 3-5 in the NIT having gone to the NIT Final Four in 1970, having first round losses in 1982 and 1983 before splitting a pair of games in 2002.

In 2002, the Tigers in a similar national television game on ESPN in the first round went to Iowa City and upset Iowa, 63-61. The task may be just as tough as Carver-Hawkeye Arena was a couple of years ago as the Sooners have won 50 of their last 54 games in the Noble Center.

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