Another Road Test

LSU's record shows the Tigers have struggled some this season. Andy Kennedy said all the more reason for his 22nd-ranked Ole Miss team to be focused and ready to play on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Second-year Tiger head coach Trent Johnson's team is 9-9 overall and 0-4 in Southeastern Conference play and dropped an 84-80 contest to Auburn in Baton Rouge Wednesday night.

"We know this. On the road it's always difficult," said Kennedy, who hasn't won a game in Baton Rouge in three seasons with the Rebels. "Obviously they lost the most players of anybody in the (SEC) West from an experience standpoint and a productivity standpoint."

The Tigers were a senior-laden group last year and won the SEC regular season title with an NCAA Tournament appearance, advancing to the second round and losing to eventual national champion North Carolina.

This season the Tigers are led by 6-foot-7 veteran senior forward Tasmin Mitchell, who is obviously doing his part to help lead the LSU cause.

"Tasmin is still the anchor of that team," Kennedy said. "(Against Auburn) he had 38 points and 10 rebounds, with 23 points in the first half. He's still putting up huge numbers."

As a team the Tigers do well on the boards, not necessarily an Ole Miss strength, although the Rebels did win the rebounding battle against South Carolina Wednesday night 38-37 in a 66-57 UM win in Oxford.

Mitchell pulls down 9.4 rebounds a game while 6-7 sophomore forward Storm Warren is at 8.7 per contest. As a team, the Tigers rank fourth in the SEC with a +3.7 rebounding margin.

In the scoring department, Mitchell paces the offense with 18.1 points per game. Bo Spencer, a 6-2 junior guard, adds 14.9 points and Warren 13.7 points.

The Rebels, 14-4 overall and 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play, have won an SEC road game this season, beating Georgia 80-76 a week and a half ago. Kennedy said no matter its record, LSU will be ready to play the Rebels.

"I know that Trent's team will be disciplined. They'll be tough. And they'll guard you," Kennedy said. "They do a good job rebounding on both ends. We've got to team defend Tasmin."

Kennedy said in the SEC it doesn't matter what's happened in the past. Any team can step up at anytime and win a game.

"All these games are so precious, I wish I could snap my fingers and say OK we're going to win this one or that one," he said. "We'll treat this game like we do any other game. We've never won in Baton Rouge since I've been here. So we have plenty of motivation."

As a matter of fact, Ole Miss hasn't won a men's basketball game at LSU since the 2002-03 season when the Rebels won 67-57. In the last 28 meetings between the two programs, the series is actually tied 14-14.

Louisiana native Terrance Henry, the lone player on the Rebels' squad from Louisiana, said he's looking forward to playing against his homestate team, a motivation it seems for players as Murphy Holloway proved Wednesday night with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and two steals against his homestate Gamecocks.

"Our confidence level is pretty high," Henry said. "Road wins are the hardest ones to get, especially in the SEC. If we can get this one, we'll be right back where we need to be."

Following the game at LSU, the Rebels remain on the road with a contest at Auburn Thursday at 8 p.m.


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