No. 19 LSU won't relax for visit to Georgia
Now that No. 19 LSU has scaled a basketball mountain it has only gazed at in amazement for nearly a decade -- beating Kentucky at Rupp Arena for the first time since 2009 -- coach Will Wade knows a trap could be set for Saturday's road game at beleaguered Georgia in Athens.
The Tigers (20-4, 10-1 SEC) have won 13 of their last 14 games, including a 92-82 victory over Georgia (10-14, 1-10) in Baton Rouge on Jan. 23. Georgia has lost five consecutive games, and its last three losses -- to Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas A&M -- have come by an average of 16 points.
After LSU's 73-71, buzzer-beating victory over Kentucky on Tuesday night, Wade preached the 24-hour rule to his players. He also stressed how disappointed he was in what he considered a sleep-walking defensive performance in the 10-point victory over Georgia.
"Our transition defense was awful, our post defense was even worse and our on-ball defense was not very good, and we got just cut up," Wade said after that game. "They were cutting so much harder than us. They just cut us up."
First-year Georgia coach Tom Crean has had a bad-news, good-news week. After an 80-64 home loss to Ole Miss on Feb. 9, Crean uncharacteristically blasted his players for their lack of mental toughness.
"It's all on me, because I'm the one who decided to keep these guys on the team," Crean said. "I live with that every day."
A day later, Crean realized he had gone too far and apologized to his players privately and to the public.
"I am definitely sorry, to them, which I've apologized to them," Crean said. "We've talked about a lot of things, but I definitely apologized to them for (the comments) and anyone else I offended, because that wasn't the intent."
Two days later, Crean was able to secure the commitment of one of country's best high school players, Atlanta native Anthony Edwards.
A day after that, the Bulldogs were routed at Texas A&M, 73-56.
LSU is undefeated in the conference on the road. Point guard Tremont Waters did not shoot well against Kentucky, but he is the catalyst, leading the team with 15.7 points, 6.0 assists and 3.1 steals a game. Freshman forward Naz Reid, who scored five points in the final 3:45 against Kentucky, is averaging 13.8 points and a team-leading 6.3 rebounds a game.
LSU also has been dominant at the free-throw line (445 of 582, 76.5 percent), getting to the line an average of 24.3 times a game.
In the victory over Kentucky, LSU again showed the poise of a team that is improving weekly. The Tigers have fallen behind by double digits in their last four games but won three of them. LSU trailed by nine points to Kentucky three minutes into the second half but did not panic.
"We've got a very, very good team," Wade said. "We've grown as the season has gone along. ... We've gotten better, and (the victory over Kentucky) confirmed that for a lot of folks."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 14, 2019