LSU and its chances for the NCAA tournament go through Georgia (15-11, 6-8 Southeastern Conference) on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Tigers (16-11, 7-8) blew a 10-point halftime lead against Georgia in January and have not won in Athens since 2009 when Marcus Thornton and Tasmin Mitchell combined for 57 points.
Defensive rebounding key for LSU
In the first matchup, the Bulldogs out rebounded LSU 38-to-27 and collected 13 offensive rebounds. In the final minute against LSU, Georgia scored five points off of two offensive rebounds, one of which led to Yante Maten’s game-winning basket with five seconds left.
Overall, Georgia is the third-best rebounding team in the SEC averaging 38.7 rebounds per game while LSU is dead last with 33.3 rebounds per game.
LSU coach Will Wade said the Tigers need to do a better job matching Georgia’s size and physicality on Saturday.
“It’s not fun, not easy, not any of that,” said Wade on game planning for Georgia. “[Georgia’s game against South Carolina] was like a wrestling match when you watch those two.”
“It’s certainly a challenge. We are not the biggest or most physical bunch, so it’ll be a major challenge for us especially having [Georgia and South Carolina] back to back.”
Duop Reath “feeling fine”
Senior center Duop Reath only played nine minutes off the bench in Tuesday’s game against Vanderbilt after suffering a lower leg injury on Feb. 13 against Alabama.
Reath is averaging 13.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 24.3 minutes per game.
“We are going to need him Saturday,” Wade said. “He’s going to need to play his normal amount of minutes plus some.”
He will have the duty of guarding one of the conference’s best bigs in Maten. Maten averages 19.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Wade acknowledges LSU’s tournament chances
The Tigers are squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. They have seven wins against RPI top-50 teams, but losses to Stephen F. Austin and Georgia at home and a road loss to Vanderbilt are dragging down LSU’s resume.
Wade said LSU has to narrow its focus on small details and to “win today.”
Bigger the game, bigger the stage, narrow the focus.. small details.
“You win today by preparing the right way, getting better in some areas that can get us beat on Saturday,” Wade said. “We need to make sure we are locked in on that, all the extra noise and that external stuff makes no difference. That stuff makes no difference if we don’t win everyday and we don’t win on Saturday, so that’s where our focus lies.”