When Georgia and LSU get together this school year, the points seem to come in droves.
Whether it was that football shootout or the Dawgs rolling up 91 on LSU last month, scoring is the norm between these two schools right now. Hell, even the women's game last month had 138 combined points.
Expect an offensive treat today, and perhaps an emotional one at that.
Look, no one is going to mistake this for a golden age of LSU basketball. No one will confuse Andre Stringer or Johnny O'Bryant III (technically not a senior, but he'll be headed for the NBA Draft in a month, good decision or not) for the Maraviches or O'Neals of Tiger past.
But I will say that I have a lot of respect for the guys playing their last game in the PMAC Saturday afternoon. Stringer was asked to play point guard on an awful team his freshman year and looked embarrassingly lost doing so. He's been appreciably better each year since, morphing into a marksman beyond the arc and one of the best undersized shooting guards to come through the program. His size has often been a defensive disadvantage, and LSU will benefit from bringing in more talented taller 2 guards. They likely won't care about the purple and gold as much as Stringer has, though.
Shavon Coleman has basically been an 18-month guy in Baton Rouge. I certainly don't begrudge him that. Coleman, all of 6-foot-5, embodied the grit and resilience of Johnny Jones' first season by often playing in the low post and carving out rebounds and points against bulkier big men. This season, he's transitioned to a small forward role, becoming a surefire corner shooter and constantly hustling in transition. He always says the right things when the cameras are on, and by all accounts, he is popular in the locker room. He'd be a valuable asset for next year, but his short time as a Tiger will still be remembered fondly.
And then there's JOB III. He came in as a five-star recruit, with one-and-done talks rumored up until his debut. He didn't live up to that hype. Yet I can't say he's been a bust. He just needed some seasoning. O'Bryant trudged through Trent Johnson's woeful offense and then adjusted to Jones' expectations for him. By last February, he was a burgeoning All-America candidate and an elite post player.
While he and the team have fallen just shy of expectations this season, I can't say he's been a disappointment. He routinely faces double teams, gets hacked on offense and targeted for fouls on the defensive end. Still, his numbers are the same or improved across the board from his All-SEC campaign last season and he's again had to carry this team despite a wealth of experience and an influx of talent. Could he use another year to polish his post passing, expand his shooting range and avoid a stacked draft? Absolutely. Do I see that happening? Slim chance. JOB won't get an official Senior Day ceremony, but give him a standing O anyway.
As for the game, LSU should have some revenge on the mind. UGA bullrushed the Tigers in Athens a month ago, sending their season into a spiral. The Bulldogs shot 46 free throws that game, marking the apex of LSU's defensive woes. Those woes have marginally improved over the last two weeks, but playing at home is the Tigers' best defense here. Georgia, like most SEC teams not named Florida, struggles on the road, and LSU has been stout in the PMAC.
LSU should take care of business in this one, but it doesn't matter too much, either way. The Tigers' last remaining hope for an at-large bid - winning out through the SEC finals - is a long shot, and they're locked between a 6 and an 8 seed in the SEC Tournament. Emotions could either carry the day for LSU or cripple it. Regardless of the outcome, Stringer, Coleman and JOB deserve your respect, anyway.