Vols Must Contain LSU Big Men

Few teams in Southeastern Conference basketball hit the backboards with the ferocity that Tennessee's next opponent does.

LSU's Jaime Lloreda (6-9, 246) and Ronald Dupree (6-7, 210) rank 2-3 among SEC rebounders heading into Saturday night's 7 p.m. tipoff at Thompson-Boling Arena. Lloreda averages 8.6 boards per game, Dupree 8.1

Lloreda also ranks second among SEC players in offensive rebounds per game (3.23) and fifth in blocked shots per game (1.68). Dupree, meanwhile, is versatile enough to rank seventh among SEC players in scoring (16.0 per game) and fourth in field-goal percentage (52.8).

Naturally, Tennessee (15-9 overall, 7-6 SEC) must do a good job of neutralizing Lloreda and Dupree on the inside if it is to snap a three-game skid and get back on track against the Tigers.

''I've always thought a lot of Ronald Dupree,'' UT head man Buzz Peterson said this week. ''He's a really hard worker, a hustle type who's tough on the boards. But the big thing that's helped them this year is having Lloreda on the inside. He's given them a presence in there who can score. That's a concern for us, being able to stop him inside.''

Like the Vols, the Tigers are trying to play their way into the NCAA Tournament. LSU stunned top-ranked Arizona 66-65 Dec. 21 in Baton Rouge and stood 12-2 following a 112-65 blowout of Centenery on Jan. 15. The Tigers then lost five games in a row, however, and stand 4-7 since their blazing start.

Just when the experts were ready to write off the Tigers, they crushed Auburn 94-63 Wednesday night in Baton Rouge, improving to 16-9 overall and 5-8 in league play.

''You've got to give them a lot of attention because they beat the No. 1 team, Arizona, earlier this year,'' Peterson said. ''They've had some ups and downs but, if they can get a run here, they can still get themselves into the Tournament.''

The Tigers are 0-6 on the road this season but that's a little deceiving. They fell by just three points (67-64) at Mississippi State and by two (56-54) at Auburn. Tennessee slipped up last Saturday and lost at home to an Alabama team that came in winless on the road. With a bid to the Big Dance on th eline, the Vols shouldn't make that mistake again.

My pick: Tennessee 70, LSU 61.


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