Tigers open exhibition season tonight

After just short of four weeks of practices, the LSU men's basketball team, fifth-ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll, plays its first exhibition game of the 2006-07 season Thursday night when the Tigers host EA Sports at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

EA Sports has won just one of its first four games on its tour, but it has been to the wire in the other three games. After defeating Utah State, 67-60, EA lost to Creighton in overtime (80-76), lost to Iowa State on a three-pointer at the buzzer (58-57) and Tuesday night in its last game fell to Providence, 82-77.


Troy DeVries, formerly of New Mexico, has twice been over 20 points for EA Sports, scoring 24 in the win over Utah State and 20 in the loss to Iowa State. In those two games, he hit a combined 11 three-point field goals. In Tuesday's loss to Providence, four players were in double figures as Jermaine Blackburn (Boise State) had 16, Shantay Legans (Fresno State) added 15, Abdul Mills (Nebraska-Omaha) 12 and Jason Forte (Southern Miss) 11. EA shot 43.9 percent from the floor (25-of-57) and 10-of-20 from three-point range.


Maury Hanks continues to be the coach and administrator for the team that meets LSU for the seventh consecutive year in the exhibition opener. LSU is 5-2 against EA Sports, which also played under the Global Sports banner in some of those years. LSU is 15-3 in exhibitions during the John Brady era with a present seven-game winning streak since a 2003 loss to EA Sports.


"Our team is looking forward to playing right now," said LSU Coach John Brady after his team went through a one-hour 6 a.m. workout Wednesday to conclude preparations for the exhibition. "I'm not really concerned about our returning veterans. I do want Magnum Rolle, Dameon Mason, Chris Johnson to get some minutes and see how they have progressed. I want to see Ben Voogd play some minutes and see the improvement we think he has made and if it will show up in the game.


"The thing I wish we had was Terry Martin eligible right now," the tenth-year coach said of the transfer from Texas Tech who will become eligible at the end of the fall semester. "He's also going to be a fine player for us. We want to see Tack Minor as far as his involvement and his ability to make other players around him better."


LSU is expected to start Garrett Temple at guard along with either Voogd or Mason with Freshman All-American Tasmin Mitchell at forward along with preseason AP All-American selection Glen Davis and either Darnell Lazare or Magnum Rolle. Davis was the SEC Player of the Year a season ago and led the league in both scoring and rebounding.


"I'm not as concerned about winning these (exhibition) games as I am about getting some guys playing time and seeing how they have developed during the off-season.


LSU will play a second exhibition game on Nov. 15 against Louisiana College before opening the 2006-07 season against Nicholls State at 7 p.m. in the Maravich Center on Nov. 17. That night, the 2006 NCAA Final Four banner will officially be lowered into place off the catwalk of the building.


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