LSU/Tennessee pre-game notes

The Tigers open Southeastern Conference play back up tonight in Knoxville against the Tennessee Volunteers.

LSU (15-4, 3-1) vs. Tennessee (12-6, 3-1)

Jan. 27, 2009 7 p.m. CT

Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn.

 

Projected LSU Starters

G 5 Marcus Thornton (6-4, 205, Sr.) 18.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg

G 14 Garrett Temple (6-6, 190, Sr.) 7.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg

G 11 Bo Spencer (6-1, 185, So.) 11.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg

F 1 Tasmin Mitchell (6-7, 235, Jr.) 15.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg

C 21 Chris Johnson (6-11, 210, Sr.) 7.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg

 

Key Reserves

G Terry Martin (6-6, 210, Sr.) 4.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg

F Quintin Thornton (6-9, 225, Sr.) 3.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg

F Storm Warren (6-7, 220, Fr.) 2.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg

 

Projected Tennessee Starters

G Bobby Maze (6-2, 185, Jr.) 9.2 ppg, 3.7 apg

G J. P. Prince (6-7, 205, Jr.) 10.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg

G Scotty Hopson (6-7, 185, Fr.) 8.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg

F Tyler Smith (6-7, 215, Jr.) 17.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg

F Wayne Chism (6-9, 242, Jr.) 12.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg

 

Key Reserves

G Cameron Tatum (6-6, 196, Fr.) 9.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg

C Brian Williams (6-10, 267, So.) 5.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg

F Renaldo Woodridge (6-8, 208, Fr.) 4.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg

 

 

Notes

The Tigers open Southeastern Conference play back up tonight in Knoxville against the Tennessee Volunteers.

 

LSU is 15-4 on the season, 3-1 in the Western Division, half a game behind leader Mississippi State, while Tennessee is 12-6, also 3-1 in conference play.

 

LSU is coming off an 80-70 loss to No. 10 Xavier, snapping the Bayou Bengals 17-game win streak at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

 

The Tigers will now close the season out with 12-straight SEC games, six being on the road and six at home.

 

LSU played a strong game against the Musketeers in their last outing, taking a four-point lead early in the second half in front of a sellout crowd of just less than 14,000, including more than 2,700 students.

 

Yet, the Tigers hit a drought in the second half, going through a seven-minute period where they missed 13 consecutive field goal attempts, falling behind by 10, a lead the Tigers were never able to crawl back from.

 

LSU senior Marcus Thornton was named SEC Player of the Week after his performance against the Musketeers and Mississippi State Bulldogs. Thornton averaged 30.5 points per game on 55.5 percent (20-of-36) shooting from the field and 53.3 percent (8-of-15) shooting from three-point range.

 

Thornton led the Tigers with 31 points against Mississippi State on January 21 and followed that with a 30-point outing against Xavier. He became the first LSU player to have back-to-back 30-point games since Ronnie Henderson went three consecutive games in 1995.

 

Thornton has reached the 30-point mark four times this season and seven times in his two years at LSU. One of the highlights for Thornton was a 3:40 stretch of the second half against Mississippi State when he scored 17 points to help LSU take control of the game.

 

Entering the game against the Volunteers, head coach Trent Johnson has yet to change his plan of attack, using just one starting line-up since the Tigers' season tipped off.

 

In the last three conference games the Tigers have scored 85, 83 and 81 points against South Carolina, at Ole Miss and against Mississippi State, respectively. LSU defeated the Gamecocks, 85-68; the Rebels, 83-51; and, the Bulldogs, 81-57.

 

The last time LSU scored 80-plus in three consecutive conference games was in 1994 when the Tigers scored 83 against Auburn, 95 against Kentucky and 84 against Georgia. The only difference was that the 1994 stretch included three losses, while the 2009 stretch has been marked by three wins.

 

Thornton leads all Tigers in scoring with 18.9 points per game and is fourth in the SEC. The Baton Rouge-native is also averaging 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

 

Coming off a 2007-08 season that sidelined him after three games, Tasmin Mitchell has bounced back in a big way, recording 15.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

 

Bo Spencer rounds out the double-digit scorers for the Tigers, averaging 11.9 points per game. The sophomore guard is recording an average of 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, as well.

 

Chris Johnson leads the Bayou Bengals in the paint, pulling down 7.6 rebounds and blocking 2.3 shots per game.

 

The Tigers are averaging 75.7 points per game which is good for sixth in the SEC. Johnson and Co. are holding opponents to 62.1 points per game, good for third in the conference. The Tigers' +13.6 point scoring margin is third best in the league.

 

From the field, LSU has hit on 519-of-1,126 shooting (46.1 percent), good for fourth in the conference. The Tigers are holding opponents to 39.7 percent from the field, ranking fifth in the SEC.

 

From behind the arc, the Tigers remain the hottest team in the SEC, hitting on 112-of-290 shots (38.6 percent) on the year. Defensively, LSU is holding opponents to 32.3 percent from three point range, good for fifth in the conference.

 

The Tigers sit near the top of the league standings in both rebounding offense (third) and defense (second), pulling down 39.3 while the opposition averages 31.8 rebounds per game, respectively.

 

The Tigers' 5.9 blocked shots per game are good for third in the SEC. The team's 15.8 assists per game ranks fourth in the conference.

 

The Volunteers are coming off an emotional game against in-state rival Memphis, which the Tigers took 54-52.

 

Though Tennessee fell on their home court, the Volunteers saw solid play from a number of players.

 

J.P. Prince, a Memphis-native, struck against his hometown Tigers with ten points and three defensive rebounds in 33 minutes of action, his most on the season.

 

Prince is averaging 10.1 points per game, giving the Volunteers length from the guard position with his 6-foot-7 frame that head coach Bruce Pearl has not had in recent years.

 

Junior Wayne Chism recorded 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting, as well as pulling down six rebounds. Chism is averaging 12.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game on the season, the closest Volunteer to double-double numbers.

 

Junior Tyler Smith is the only other Volunteer averaging double digits in scoring, bringing in a team-high 17.7 points and 3.8 assists per game. The Pulaski-native has not been held to less than ten points in a game this season.

 

The Volunteers have remained hot on the offensive end all season, leading the SEC in scoring (81.2 ppg); yet sit last in the conference in scoring defense (74.3 ppg).

 

Tennessee's scoring margin (+6.9 ppg) is good for ninth in the SEC.

 

The Volunteers rank sixth in the conference in field goal percentage (45.3 percent) and 11th in field goal defense (43.3 percent).

 

From behind the arc, Pearl's squad has hit on 111-of-370 three point shots, good for 11th in the SEC. If it could not get worse for the folks in Knoxville, the Volunteers have allowed opponents to hit on 135-of-377 shooting from three-point range which is next to last in the conference.

 

Tennessee leads the league in rebounding, averaging 41.5 rebounds per game.

 

In the paint, the Volunteers are averaging 3.89 blocks per game, thanks in large part to Chism's presence down low.

 

After the trip to Knoxville, LSU returns home for a Saturday 4 p.m. showdown against Arkansas in the Maravich Center.

 

The game will culminate the Centennial Weekend activities, which will bring over 130 alums together for two days of activities.

 

The All-Century team will be announced at the game, and there will be an alumni game at 12:30 p.m., which is open and free to the public. Music and food will be available in front of the Assembly Center from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.


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