LSU (14-6) at Georgia (10-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 6, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stegeman Coliseum (10,523) -- Athens, Georgia. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: LSU 10-2, UGA 9-2. Away Record: LSU 2-3, UGA 1-5. Neutral Record: LSU 2-1, UGA 0-3. Conference Record: LSU 5-3, UGA 4-4. Series Record: LSU leads, 62-42.
GAME NOTES: The Georgia Bulldogs will open up a two-game homestand at Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday night when they square off against the LSU Tigers in an SEC bout.
LSU has been trending upward of late with wins in four of its last five games to improve to 14-6 overall and 5-3 in the SEC. The Tigers secured their best win of the season on Jan. 28 versus nationally-ranked Kentucky (87-82) before taking care of business at home against Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, 88-74.
Georgia was riding high a few weeks back after winning four of its first five league matchups, but since then it has hit a rough patch with three consecutive losses to fall to 10-10 and 4-4 in conference action. The Bulldogs most recently lost at Auburn on Saturday, 74-67, but now they return home where they've won nine of 11.
After 104 all-time meetings, LSU has a 62-42 lead over Georgia. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament last season, 68-63.
The Tigers led their most recent contest wire-to-wire, opening up a 15-point first-half lead over Arkansas over the weekend and never looking back from there. They shot a sizzling 54.7 percent from the field (including 7-of-16 from 3-point range) and earned a decisive 45-33 advantage in the rebounding battle. Johnny O'Bryant III scored 23 points and corralled nine rebounds, and Jordan Mickey was also outstanding with 22 points, 11 boards and six blocks. Jarell Martin chipped in 15 points to the winning effort, while Andre Stringer netted 10 off the bench.
On the season, LSU has had little trouble putting points on the board, as it scores 77.2 ppg on 45.5 percent field goal shooting, which has proven to be more than enough to support its modest scoring defense (69.9 ppg). The team's strength comes in the frontcourt. O'Bryant puts up 15.8 ppg and 7.5 rpg, while Mickey (13.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg) shoots greater than 56 percent from the field and swats away 3.8 bpg. Also adding to the balanced effort are Stringer (11.8 ppg), Martin (9.1 ppg), Shavon Coleman (8.9 ppg) and Anthony Hickey (8.6 ppg, 2.2 spg).
The Bulldogs fell behind Auburn by eight at the half over the weekend and never held the lead in the second stanza as their losing streak continued. They were outshot from the field, 46.5 percent to 42 percent, and were outscored at the free-throw line, 27-19. Charles Mann led the way with 18 points and four assists, while Nemanja Djurisic came off the bench to tally 11 points and six rebounds.
Georgia is able to outshoot its opponents from the field this season, 43.8 percent to 41 percent, but it just barely scores more (69.2 ppg) than it allows (68.9 ppg). It boasts a lackluster scoring offense due to a combination of poor free-throw (.662) and 3-point shooting (.331) as well as a disappointing -2.2 scoring margin. Mann leads the way with 13.5 ppg but has shot just 103-of-156 from the free-throw line (.660). Kenny Gaines brings 11.8 ppg to the table and Djurisic rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.2 ppg.
Despite Georgia's impressive play at home and LSU's shaky showing on the road (2-3), the Tigers' superior talent should prevail in this one against the sliding Bulldogs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 72, Georgia 67
02/06 10:21:15 ET