Game time is 7 p.m. but the most important part of the evening may come well before tipoff at 6:45 p.m. when LSU honors its five seniors who will be playing their final career home game – Terry Martin, Quintin Thornton, Chris Johnson, Marcus Thornton and Garrett Temple.
Martin has played three years, while both Thorntons were junior college transfers. Johnson and Temple both were part of the 2006 NCAA Final Four team as freshmen and Temple is one of just nine players who will end up being regular starters on two SEC Championship teams.
LSU enters the contest 25-4, 13-1 in the league and the winners of 10 straight games since an 80-70 setback to Xavier on Jan. 24. LSU has won 13 in a row in the league since an opening league loss to Alabama on Jan. 11.
The Tigers won a share of the league title on Feb. 24 in a nationally-televised Fat Tuesday night win against Florida, 81-75, and then won the league title outright on Saturday when Tasmin Mitchell hit a three-pointer with 9.8 seconds left to give LSU a 73-70 advantage and its first win against Kentucky in Rupp Arena in 20 years.
The Tigers broke into the national rankings three weeks ago and now stand 11th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll and No. 12 in the Associated Press media poll.
Vanderbilt is led 6-foot-11 center A. J. Ogilvy who is averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds. The Australian sophomore scored a career high 28 points versus South Carolina. The Commodores start three freshmen, a sophomore and junior Jermaine Beal, averaging 12.6 points after scoring a career high 27 points against Carolina.
“We have a very good basketball team coming in here that starts three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior,” said Coach Johnson. “You look at them on video tape and watch how they demolished a very good South Carolina team. Obviously we need to be ready to play and play well.”
Coach Johnson could be limited in his weapons against Vanderbilt as Bo Spencer has a slight wrist sprain and Quintin Thornton is recovering from a mild concussion suffered in the Kentucky game. Both are listed as day-to-day for Wednesday’s game. Chris Johnson, who only played 15 minutes against Kentucky because of the flu, is expected to be closer to full strength on Wednesday.
“We are looking forward to playing a very good Vanderbilt team,” said Coach Johnson. “Obviously, as we well know, it’s the seniors’ last home game. It’s a special group of seniors. I know a lot of you (media) have been around them longer than I have, but obviously they’ve had a huge impact on me in a short period of time as people and as basketball players.”
The Tigers close out the regular season on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Auburn in a game to be televised regionally by Raycom Sports.
LSU (25-4, 13-1) vs. Vanderbilt (17-11, 6-8)
March 4, 2009 at 7 p.m. CT
Pete Maravich Assembly Center – Baton Rouge, La.
LSU Probable Starters
G – Marcus Thornton (6-4, 205, Sr.) 21.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg
G – Garrett Temple (6-6, 190, Sr.) 7.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.1 apg
G – Bo Spencer (6-1, 180, So.) 11.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.7 apg
F – Tasmin Mitchell (6-7, 235, Jr.) 16.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg
C – Chris Johnson (6-11, 210, Sr.) 8.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg
G – Chris Bass (6-0, 180, Fr.) 1.0 ppg, 1.6 apg
G – Terry Martin (6-6, 210, Sr.) 4.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg
G – Alex Farrer (6-5, 205, Jr.) 1.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg
F – Quintin Thornton (6-9, 225, Sr.) 2.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg
F – Storm Warren (6-7, 220, Fr.) 2.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg
F – Delwan Graham (6-5, 215, Fr.) 1.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Vanderbilt Probable Starters
G – Jermaine Beal (6-3, 205, Jr.) 12.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.1 apg
G – Brad Tinsley (6-3, 210, Fr.) 10.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg
C – A.J. Ogilvy (6-11, 250, So.) 15.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg
F – Jeffrey Taylor (6-7, 205, Fr) 12.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg
F – Steve Tchiengang (6-9, 240, Fr.) 3.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg
G – George Drake (6-4, 215, Jr.) 5.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg
F – Lance Goulbourne (6-8, 225 Fr.) 5.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
C – Festus Ezeli (6-11, 255, Fr.) 3.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg
F – Darshawn McClellan (6-7, 240, Fr.) 2.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg