Despite ending the regular season with a loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena, the LSU Basketball squad earned a coveted double-bye in the SEC Tournament which began at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Wednesday. The arena is home of the National Hockey League's Predators, and that is the role the fourth seeded Tigers will look to assume as they kick the tires on a conference championship. The Tigers are presumably two or three wins away from a date in the NCAA Tournament, and their first prey in the tournament is the University of Tennessee.
The Volunteers held on to beat Vanderbilt 67-65 on Thursday when a basket from Wade Baldwin IV was ruled to have been scored after the final horn sounded. It was their second win in two days as they mercilessly defeated Auburn 97-59. With the two wins, the Vols improved to 15-18 overall.
This will be the second time LSU and Tennessee square off in less than a month. The two did so on February 10 in Knoxville. The Vols were without Kevin Punter in that game, but his teammates including Armani Moore picked up the slack to knock off the Tigers 81-65. Moore that day recorded 17 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. On the other side of the court, freshman phenom Ben Simmons was benched the first five minutes of the game. He still finished the game with 21 points and nine rebounds. Antonio Blakeney added 20 points for the Tigers seven rebounds.
Punter is still out of the game Friday at 2:30 for the Vols as is Keith Hornsby for the Tigers. The senior transfer from UNC-Wilmington had season ending surgery on a sports hernia injury that he sustained in the team's previous matchup. There is no doubt Punter and Hornsby will be a driving force on the bench during the game for their respective teams as the winner will face off against the winner of number one seed Texas A&M and Florida Saturday at noon in the semi-finals.
The game will be carried live on the SEC Network and WatchESPN