Digging deep

The LSU Tigers, coming off an emotionally draining double-overtime 97-94 win Wednesday night at Starkville against Mississippi State, must now try to keep the momentum going when they host Ole Miss Saturday night at 6 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers with the win on Wednesday are now 20-4 on the year and 8-1 in the Southeastern Conference. LSU is two games up on Mississippi State in the Western Division and Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee in the SEC Eastern Division.


But the Tigers will have to play Ole Miss without starting point guard Bo Spencer after Spencer sprained his left ankle in the Mississippi State game on Wednesday. Coach Johnson has declared him out hopefully for just this game but Spencer is listed as day-to-day at this point.


In his place, Terry Martin, who scored 11 points and played 31 minutes against the Bulldogs, will move to the wing guard and Garrett Temple will resume his role of the last two years and will play the point.


Marcus Thornton, the team’s leading scorer at 19.9 points a game will be the third guard, with Tasmin Mitchell at forward and Chris Johnson at senior. Mitchell, the junior from Denham Springs, is the reigning SEC Player of the Week and showed no ill effects from that honor with 41 points and 11 rebounds in 49 minutes with five assists and no turnovers.


The Tigers were 83-51 winners over Ole Miss in the first meeting last month in Oxford. LSU used runs of 12-0 and 11-0 early in the contest to get in a commanding position that LSU never relinquished.


But Ole Miss has won three of its last four games, although the last was a 71-61 loss at Vanderbilt.


“It’s like I told these guys right before we went and watched video of Ole Miss – our reward for winning in double overtime is that we get to play a basketball team that went in there and beat them in regulation,” said Coach Trent Johnson of LSU.


Ole Miss is led by six-foot-five, 200 pound guard David Huertas, who averages 19.3 points a game and hits 37.4 percent from behind the arc (65-174). He is the fourth leading scorer and second most efficient three-point shooter in the SEC.


Huertas has scored in double figures in 22 of the Rebels 23 games, and he scored 20 or more on 12 occasions.


True freshman guard Terrico White has had the hot hand of late for the Rebels as the Memphis-native is averaging 17.6 points a game over his last eight outings.


White torched the Tigers for 22 points in the earlier meeting, but Huertas was held in check with a season-low four points.


Trent Johnson knows that the Rebels (13-10, 4-5 SEC) are a dangerous team and is playing much better than when LSU caught them in Oxford.


“Again, I said to the guys – that wasn’t Ole Miss (in the first meeting with LSU). It was just like when we went to Utah, that was one of those games,” Johnson said. “When you look at college basketball for the majority of the teams, there are going to be games like that where you are off and whatever reason, you’re not right and the other team is playing well …


“I do know this. We just got through beating a team in double overtime. They beat them in regulation. They’ve been to some places and won that we’ve got to go to. This is league play. Andy Kennedy has done an exceptional job. I’m always been impressed with their physical strength.”

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