GAMETHREAD: LSU at Georgia; 6 pm, ESPN2


LSU takes its show on the road, where it must prove that it belongs with the big boys.

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Nice week Tigers, but now it's back to work.

If LSU wants to be a serious contender going forward, this upcoming stretch of road games is crucial. Georgia, Texas A&M and Arkansas are not exactly a murderer's row, but LSU has still been piss poor on the road this season.

Georgia beat Alabama, has a better record than the Tide and has a three-game losing streak to snap. If LSU had trouble winning at Bama, then there's absolutely no way this is a given. That's how the players themselves must treat this, because all those nice wins the last few weeks? Yeah, those were at home. The road is a whole different animal.

Despite a less-than-intimidating SEC, it's very much a conference based on home-court advantage. Through eight league games each, home teams are winning 71 percent of the time. LSU hasn't shown much to buck that trend against a team not named South Carolina, especially against a UGA squad that can play extremely well in spurts.

The Bulldogs are a poor shooting team from almost everywhere, so expect LSU to break out the zone again. There lies the key to this game: defense. If the Tigers are locked in on that end of the floor, Georgia shouldn't threaten much. It's hardly realistic to expect that, though, unless LSU shows me something new. Long stretches of lethargy have been the norm, not the exception, on the road.

There's hardly any formidable size in the paint for the Bulldogs, which means LSU's trio of Jarell Martin, JOB III and Jordan Mickey should continue a recent upswing. They were great last time out, with a 60-point, 25-rebound effort burying Arkansas. If this unit is truly becoming an elite one, handling the UGA frontline shouldn't be an issue.

But there's the rub for LSU. None of this SHOULD be an issue. Yet until the Tigers prove that they can handle a road environment and play like a superior team for 40 minutes, not 25 or 30, it's hard to have too much confidence. Though they have a 2-3 record away from home, the only game decided by more than 2 points was the OT loss at Ole Miss. That's a reason for optimism or pessimism, depending on your perspective.

Expect another close one in Athens, with Anthony Hickey or O'Bryant likely needing to make a few big shots down the stretch. This team doesn't seem to do business any other way.

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