February 14, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA; LSU Tigers guard Anthony Hickey (1) celebrates with teammates after hitting a game winning shot in overtime against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. LSU defeated Mississippi State 69-67. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

LSU Basketball Preview: Dawgs try to slow down LSU

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Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE

On Wednesday night the Georgia Bulldogs (12-14, 3-9) will try to put an end to LSU’s three game winning streak. Vegas don’t believe they will, as of Tuesday night LSU is a six point favorite. Putting in this into some context, LSU has only been favored in four of their 12 conference and one of those, Alabama, was because four starters were suspended. I can’t just leave the breakdown of the game at that. Many of us forget Georgia has a basketball team, so let me take a minute and give you a quick introduction.

If Georgia was a sitcom, it would be Whitney; Awkward, unintentionally funny and makes you ask if they even know what they are trying to do. Georgia ranks last in the conference in field goal percentage (37%), 11th in scoring offense and 10th in free-throw percentage. On a positive note, Georgia does lead the conference in turnover margin (2.0) which takes the difference between turnovers committed against turnovers forced.

Also, like Whitney, the cast is sub-par than its counterparts. Only two Bulldogs average double-figures in scoring, Gerald Robinson (14.1) and Ken Caldwell-Pope (13). No Bulldog averages more that seven rebounds a game. Marcus Thornton, Caldwell-Pope and Nemanja Djurisic led the rebounding effort for the Dawgs (more on this later)…

I don’t want to downplay Georgia, even though they only have three SEC wins, two of those have come in the last four games. Georgia beat Arkansas and Mississippi State (in Starkville) in overtime then lost at South Carolina by one point and at Vanderbilt by nine. Against Vanderbilt they led for three-quarters of the game, but shot only 30 percent from the field and 1-17 from three in the second half. If a few things go differently for Georgia, they could have easily have been 5-7 instead of 3-9 in the SEC.

Going back to the Mississippi State game for a moment, the Dawgs won on the road by out rebounding State 40-33 overall, and 18-7 in offensive rebounds. We know how difficult it is to beat State at this since State destroyed LSU on the glass. Since then, even though the wins haven’t happened, their dominance on the glass has. Against Vanderbilt and South Carolina, Georgia beat them on the offensive glass, 15-8 and 15-7. Offensive rebounding is a poor-shooting teams best friend (just ask LSU). For Georgia to get the win in Baton Rouge, they will need to win this battle.

For LSU to win the game they need to rely on what has carried them on their three game winning streak, excellent defense, not turning the ball over and when the team is struggling on offense, get the ball inside to one of the big men. Over the last few weeks the development of Johnny O’Bryant can’t be missed. He continues to out-power his opponents on offense, and is becoming a much needed interior force on defense. His aggression has helped keep Justin Hamilton and Storm Warren out of foul trouble and on the court. These three without question have been the obvious MVPs during the stretch. What has gone unnoticed is the excellent defense of Andre Stringer. Stringer lacks size and shooting memory, but in recent weeks has stepped up his defense. Also important, he isn’t just settling for long jumpers. Now he is getting into the lane that the big men are creating, forcing the defenses to collapse on him.

There isn’t any special game plan to win. If LSU plays as well as they have, and beats Georgia on the board, LSU will win the game. It is that simple. What isn’t so simple, why is Whitney still on the air? Will some one tell me that…

The game airs on the SEC network and ESPN3.com at 7:00pm.

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