Depleted Tigers To Face Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION – The LSU men's basketball team finds itself in an unenviable position here Saturday night as the injury-riddled LSU team must face nationally-ranked Texas A&M in Reed Arena.

The Tigers (7-6) and the Aggies (13-1) meet at 7 p.m. in the first meeting between the teams in this city since 1981. The game will be televised on ESPNU as the Tigers make their first ever appearance on the all-college member of the ESPN family of networks.

Texas A&M is ranked 10th in the ESPN/USA Today poll and 12th in the Associated Press poll with a 13-1 record. The Aggies beat Rice, 68-41, in their last start on Monday. The Aggies have 13 straight home games and won 34 of their last 35 at the 12,500-seat arena.

The Tigers took a bit hit on Wednesday night in the 68-63 loss at Tulane besides the loss itself. Junior center Chris Johnson broke the bone between the base of his index finger and the wrist in his right hand that forced him out of the game with 18 minutes to play. That along with the expected absence of Dameon Mason because of the final weekend of intercession classes means that LSU will dress just eight players for the game against Texas A&M.

Also still missing from the Tigers roster are Tasmin Mitchell (ankle surgery) and Quintin Thornton (pectoral muscle surgery).

With Johnson out, it appears that LSU will go with a four-guard lineup that adds freshman back-up point guard Bo Spencer to the starting rotation along with fellow guards Terry Martin, Garrett Temple and Marcus Thornton along with forward Anthony Randolph. Garrett Temple could move down into the post in a manner similar to what Tasmin Mitchell did earlier in the year before his injury.

"We are certainly going to be challenged with A&M having two 6-10 guys," said Coach John Brady. "In spite of what all happened at Tulane, we had opportunities to win that game. We executed a couple of times really well down the stretch, we just couldn't make the play when we needed it. We are going to put in a couple of things that will help us offensively. We are going to coach it. We are going to work hard. We are going to win some games in spite of it all. It's a great opportunity for our players and this team to show what type of character and toughness they have. It's a great opportunity to make a statement about competing. I just feel like there is something good for this group because they are working hard and they are trying to improve and get better."

The Tigers lead the overall series, 14-9, over the Aggies and they have had two major wins over Texas A&M in 2006 in the last two meetings. Darrel Mitchell hit a three-pointer in the final 10 seconds in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., to advance the Tigers to the regional semifinals with a 57-56 win, while in December of 2006, the Tigers met in the first half of this home-and-home series with LSU defeating the nationally-ranked Aggies, 64-52.

A&M has a new coach since those meetings with Billy Gillespie going on to Kentucky and Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon taking the Aggies head job and seeing his new team not miss a beat. Turgeon was at the helm in 2006 when Wichita State beat LSU, 57-53, in the Maravich Center.

The Aggies are led by junior Josh Carter, averaging 13.8 points a game and freshman center DeAndre Jordan averaging 10.5 points a contest.

Following this game, LSU opens Southeastern Conference play on Wednesday night in Baton Rouge at the Maravich Center at 7 p.m. against Mississippi State.

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