League leading LSU (18-4, 6-1) went on the road and defeated Georgia (9-13, 0-7) on Wednesday night by a score of 80-62. The 20-point road win is impressive enough, but Thornton and Mitchell combined for 57 of those 80 points.
Mitchell posted 27 points and nine boards on the Dawgs, while Thornton had another impressive shooting performance, hitting 61 percent from the field for 30 points.
“We did what we needed to do to win, I don’t know if superb is the performance you would say,” said LSU coach Trent Johnson. “Offensively, two guys did carry us and the most important thing is that you find ways to win.”
The pair’s performance offset an unusually unproductive night from sophomore point guard Bo Spencer, who had been red-hot until Wednesday night. Spencer hit five-of-six 3-pointers in Saturday’s win against Arkansas, but could not get his shots to drop in Athens. He missed on three 3-pointers and went 0-of-7 from the field overall, finishing with no points, two assists and three turnovers.
“Obviously Bo was struggling a little bit,” Johnson said. “That’s to be expected because he was playing at such a high level for so long. I just think from the standpoint of us coming in here, on the road, and being able to methodically wear a team down and win a game at this level is good.”
Georgia’s 2009 season isn’t getting any easier, despite the firing of head coach Dennis Felton after a 0-5 conference start. The Bulldogs haven’t won a game since January 3, and are in the middle of a nine-game losing streak with interim head coach Pete Herrmann in charge.
“We showed our maturity and it feels good,” Johnson said. “I liked how they were in the locker room immediately after the game. It wasn’t a bunch of celebration - it was like they expected to win. But they know they didn’t play well and certain guys need to get in the gym and work hard. So we’re getting there, and we just took another step in terms of improving every game.”
Mitchell and Thornton have been the Tigers’ primary scoring threats all season long, and Johnson said he was pleasantly surprised to see a bit of role reversal against the Bulldogs.
“The thing I like about them both is that Marcus made three really good decisions in turning down some shots in transition that he would’ve taken a week or two ago,” he said. “Uncharacteristically, I thought Taz at times took a couple of bad ones. But their light is green and they’ve earned my trust, so when they get it going like that they can take a couple of bad ones. I think it’s important that they feel they can play free and easy on offense.”
The Tigers are now on a six-game conference winning streak after opening SEC play with a loss to Alabama.
Next up is the Crimson Tide team that knocked the Tigers off in Tuscaloosa. Tipoff is set for noon Sunday at the PMAC.