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GAMETHREAD: Basketball at Georgia, 1pm, ESPNU

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Revenge leg against the Bulldogs could make or break LSU’s Tourney hopes

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

With originally daft postseason expectations slowly becoming a plausible reality, the LSU Tigers (16-11, 7-8) travel to Athens this weekend to take on the Georgia Bulldogs (15-12, 6-9). Georgia escaped the PMAC with a 61-60 win earlier this season after LSU blew a 34-24 lead at halftime.

“The second half, they controlled things,” said Coach Wade after January’s loss to the Bulldogs. “They got the ball to Maten, their best player. They just physically beat us up in the paint, beat us up on the glasses. I think we were down one on the boards at halftime. We lost it by 11. They rebounded 13 of their 31 misses. That’s in the high 40s. That’s got to be. That’s almost 50 percent. They just physically beat us up. That’s pretty much all there is to it.”

Struggling with rebounding all season, LSU lost that particular battle 38-27. Despite a recent blowout loss to Alabama, the Tigers haven’t lost a rebounding battle in their last three games. The Tiger forwards have been playing at a higher level recently, but the Bulldogs still have Yante Maten at their disposal, and he’s my favorite for SEC Player of the Year for a reason.

The senior power forward has easily been Georgia’s most influential asset this season. Having played in all 27 games this season, Maten has only failed to score double digits just once, when he scored 9 points. He completely took over the game against LSU, dropping 17 points and hauling in 8 rebounds in the second half alone. He would finish with 21 points and 12 rebounds that night, serving as one of his ELEVEN double-doubles this season. The man is an NBA-ready monster, and the Reath/Epps/Sims rotation couldn’t have their hands more full.

Projected Georgia Bulldogs Starting 5

#1 PF - Yante Maten: 19.3 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 34.1 minutes

#0 PG - William Jackson II: 9.1 PPG, 3.6 APG, 30.7 minutes

#3 SG/SF - Juwan Parker: 8.6 PPG, 1.2 APG, 25.3 minutes

#20 SF - Rayshaun Hammonds: 6.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 23.3 minutes

#34 C - Derek Ogbeide: 7.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 21.9 minutes

This afternoon’s game will tip off at 1pm and will be televised on ESPNU. You can listen in on the radio at 98.1 FM, or follow along in the comments below or via my (delayed) live tweets @marq113.