LSU (18-11) vs. Georgia (15-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bridgestone Arena (20,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: SEC Network, ESPN3.com. Home Record: LSU 14-3, Georgia 12-6. Away Record: LSU 4-8, Georgia 3-8. Neutral Record: LSU 0-0, Georgia 0-2. Conference Record: LSU 9-9, Georgia 9-9. Series Record: LSU leads, 61-42.
GAME NOTES: The ninth-seeded LSU Tigers and the eighth-seeded Georgia Bulldogs open up second-round action of the 2013 SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Thursday afternoon.
The winner will advance to Friday's quarterfinals to play top-seeded Florida.
In Johnny Jones' first season as head coach after a decade at the helm of North Texas, LSU has had a solid season, going 18-11 overall and finishing the SEC campaign at 9-9. The Tigers slipped up a bit coming into the tournament, with losses in two of their last three games, including an 81-67 home setback versus Ole Miss last Saturday.
Georgia (15-16) also exceeded expectations in the SEC, going 9-9 for just its third season at .500 or better in the league in the past 10 years. The Bulldogs had been winners of three of four heading into their regular-season finale at Alabama, but they fell victim to a miraculous game-winning shot from beyond half-court to lose to the Crimson Tide, 61-58.
After 103 all-time meetings, LSU leads Georgia by a 61-42 count, although the Bulldogs won the lone matchup this season, 67-58, in Athens on Jan. 19.
LSU came out flat on its senior day last weekend, getting outshot by Ole Miss from the field, 52.5 percent to 41.1 percent, in the 14-point loss. Andre Stringer was impressive along the perimeter for the Tigers, shooting 4-of-8 from 3-point range for 18 points. Johnny O'Bryant III tallied his 14th double- double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Anthony Hickey netted 10 points. On the season, the Tigers have one of the more balanced offenses in the SEC, pouring in 71.3 ppg with five players scoring in double figures on a nightly basis. O'Bryant III mans the paint with 13.8 ppg and 8.8 rpg, while Hickey (11.8 ppg, 3.8 apg) is an elite perimeter defender with a Division I-best 3.1 spg. Charles Carmouche (10.8 ppg), Stringer (10.3 ppg) and Shavon Coleman (10.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) round out a potent attack.
Georgia appeared to be down for the count against Alabama in the regular- season finale, as it trailed by as many as 17 points before climbing all the way back to tie the contest at 58-58 in the final minute on a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer, but the Tide responded with a miracle heave from Trevor Releford at the buzzer as the Bulldogs were saddled with the heart- breaking loss. Caldwell-Pope poured in 14 points in the setback, as did Nemanja Djurisic from off the bench. Brandon Morris (11 points) was also impressive in a reserve role. UGA is led by the efforts of super-sophomore Caldwell-Pope, who registers 18.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg and 2.1 spg and was named the SEC Player of the Year. The team has difficulty putting up points elsewhere however, as it nets a lowly 60.7 ppg and Djurisic is the next-best scoring option with only 8.1 ppg. Luckily for the Bulldogs, they play outstanding defense, allowing just 61.4 ppg.
Something's got to give in this battle of offense versus defense, but the LSU shooting attack has seen a significant drop-off away from Baton Rouge. With its stout defense and Caldwell-Pope being the "x-factor", Georgia should find a way to advance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia 66, LSU 64
03/14 10:51:14 ET