Right on Cue?

LSU will face Xavier on Tuesday night and here's a glance at where the Tigers stand with one game remaining before the New Year.


Coach Trent Johnson says he has no problem with the effort his players are putting forth, even though the results have not always been positive for the Tigers.


"Am I proud of the way my guys competed? Yes, because of who we played and where we played," Johnson said after the pre-Christmas 72-70 overtime loss to Washington State in Seattle. "But we came up short."


The Tigers fell to 8-3 on the season with the defeat.


One area in which they definitely need to improve is their shooting.


Through their first 11 games, they were hitting only 42.6 percent from the field and only 29.8 percent on 3-pointers. Both marks were last in the SEC through games of Dec. 27.


They shot only 35.4 percent overall and made only 6 of 23 3-point attempts in the loss to the Cougars.


"Obviously, we've got guys on our basketball team that don't shoot it very well," Johnson said. "We've got to work on taking up the space, and we've got to develop a third or a fourth scorer."


Actually, the Tigers have three players averaging in double figures, but one of them, sophomore Storm Warren, had only two points against Washington State before fouling out after just 21 minutes.


"Storm Warren is a much better player than he showed tonight," Johnson said, "but he didn't get to play. He couldn't be aggressive."



--Senior F Tasmin Mitchell was averaging 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds through his first 11 outings, which ranked fifth and third in the SEC, respectively, through games of Dec. 27. Mitchell, Kentucky's Patrick Patterson and Georgia's Trey Thompkins were the only players in the league in the top 10 in both categories.


--Sophomore F Storm Warren was leading the SEC in rebounding at the Christmas break with an average of 10.7 per game.


JANUARY AT A GLANCE: With two road games to follow at South Carolina and Florida, the Tigers need to get off to a good start in their SEC opener at home against Alabama. They also get Auburn and Ole Miss at home in January, but travel to Tuscaloosa for a rematch with the Tide and go to Mississippi State. They start the New Year with home games against Utah and McNeese State to complete their non-conference schedule.


QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's one of the things teams have to be made of. When key guys go out of the game, others on the bench have to step up." -- F Tasmin Mitchell, on the need to develop depth.



SEASON RECAP: F Tasmin Mitchell (17.3 points per game), G Bo Spencer (16.6) and F Storm Warren (14.2) were all averaging in double figures through games of Dec. 27, but the Tigers really struggle when they all aren't on their games. Warren (15 points) was the only one in double figures in the loss to UConn; Spencer didn't play in the loss to Arizona State because of an ankle injury; Warren had only two points in the loss to Washington State. 


PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Tasmin Mitchell, F Storm Warren, G Aaron Dotson, G Bo Spencer, G Chris Bass. Key Subs -- F Dennis Harris, F Garrett Green, F Eddie Ludwig, G/F Zach Kinsley.



   LSU 63, Nicholls 60

   LSU 65, Rice 61

   Washington State 72, LSU 70 (OT)



   at Xavier, Tuesday, Dec. 29

   vs. Utah, Saturday, Jan. 2

   vs. McNeese State, Monday, Jan. 4

   vs. Alabama, Saturday, Jan. 9

   at South Carolina, Wednesday, Jan. 13


IN FOCUS: Xavier bounced back from a controversial loss at Butler to beat Miami (Ohio) in their last outing before hosting the Tigers. Perimeter defense will be a high priority for the Tigers as Xavier's Jordan Crawford, Terrell Holloway and Brad Redford are shooting a combined 44.6 percent (58-of-130) on 3-pointers.



--Freshman G Aaron Dotson was back in his hometown in Seattle when the Tigers took on Washington State at KeyArena, former home of the Seattle Supersonics. Dotson scored 11 points but was only 4 of 13 from the field, missing all five of his 3-point tries. He fouled out of the game after giving the Tigers a quick 64-62 lead with a basket in the overtime.


--F Tasmin Mitchell, who averaged four attempts from the free throw line in his first 10 games, didn't get to the line at all against Washington State.


--F Storm Warren saw his streak of double-doubles in home games end when he scored 11 points but came up a rebound short in the win over Rice. He had registered a double-double in each of the first seven home games.

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