Georgia (17-12) at LSU (18-11)

The Sports NetworkMarch 8, 2014 

GAME NOTES: The LSU Tigers will welcome the Georgia Bulldogs to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday afternoon as the SEC regular season comes to a close.

Although Georgia's overall record has been modest at 17-12, it has been arguably the most pleasant surprise in the SEC, as it sits in third place at 11-6, and with a win in this matchup it'll clinch a coveted double bye in next week's SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs have won three of their last four games, most recently dismissing Mississippi State at home on Wednesday, 66-45.

LSU has performed solid this season at 18-11 overall and 9-8 in the SEC, but its production has slowed down in recent weeks, having gone just 4-5 since Feb. 6. The Tigers managed to pull off an impressive road victory on Thursday night, 57-51 over Vanderbilt, and they'll welcome a return home to Baton Rouge where they've gone 13-2.

Georgia downed LSU at home in the first meeting this season, 91-78 on Feb. 6. The Tigers still lead the all-time series, 62-45, which includes a 34-12 mark at home.

The Bulldogs trailed late in the first half of their most recent contest but ended the frame on a 22-6 run to take a 13-point lead into intermission and cruised to the easy victory from there. They outshot Mississippi State from the field, 43.1 percent to 34 percent, and outscored it from 3-point territory, 21-0. Kenny Gaines led the way with 14 points, Marcus Thornton added 13 points and Charles Man scored 10 and dished out eight assists.

Georgia has found success this season despite a rather modest offensive attack, as it shoots 44 percent from the field for just 69.2 ppg, but that has been enough considering its stellar play on the defensive end of the floor, as it yields just 66.6 ppg on a mere 39.5 percent shooting. It also benefits from a +4.9 rebounding margin, but it also gives some of those possessions away with a -2.4 turnover margin. Gaines and Mann and in a dead heat for the scoring lead with 13.1 ppg apiece, although Gaines' field goal percentage (.443) has been much more impressive than Mann's (.392). Nemanja Djurisic (9.0 ppg), Brandon Morris (9.0 ppg) and Thornton (8.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.4 bpg) have also been solid.

Although the Tigers trailed by as many as 16 in the first half earlier in the week, they surged ahead down the stretch and eventually captured a six-point victory in the low-scoring affair. They shot only 33.3 percent from the field, but it held Vanderbilt to an even worse 30.5 percent shooting and made a difference at the free-throw line with a 19-8 scoring advantage. Johnny O'Bryant III was the catalyst in the triumph, shooting 11-of-18 from the floor en route to 25 points to go with 11 rebounds. Andre Stringer came off the bench to net 11 points and Shavon Coleman tallied nine points and eight boards.

LSU's struggles offensively were not typical of its season production, as it shoots 44.6 percent from the field for 76.1 ppg. Likewise, the squad's strong defensive showing against Vanderbilt was also abnormal, as it ranks near the bottom of the SEC in scoring defense (71.4 ppg). The team is led by the stellar frontcourt duo of O'Bryant III (15.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Jordan Mickey (13.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.3 bpg), who both shoot greater than 50 percent from the field. Rounding out the balanced attack are Stringer (11.5 ppg), Jarell Martin (10.1 ppg), Anthony Hickey (9.1 ppg) and Coleman (8.8 ppg).

While Georgia may have the upper hand in the league standings, its poor road performance (3-7) matched up against an LSU squad that has impressed at home, is not a strong recipe for success for the Bulldogs.

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