Tigers-Gators in Fabulous Fat Tuesday Game

POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 7:53pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:57pm

The LSU Tigers, assured of at least a tie for the SEC Western Division championship and the top seed on the West side at the SEC Tournament in Tampa next month, goes for the next step Tuesday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against the University of Florida. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

The game is part of the long-running Super Tuesday package and is billed as part of Judgment Week. It is also being billed as part of rivalry week on the campus as LSU hosts Tennessee on Thursday night in women’s basketball, also at the PMAC.

The Tigers (23-4, 11-1) moved up to No. 18 in both major basketball polls announced on Monday after a 72-69 win on Wednesday at Arkansas and a 79-72 win over Auburn at home on Saturday. LSU is now 6-0 in the league at home and the winner of a school record 18 games so far at home.

Florida (21-6, 8-4) has also won its last two games, 83-74, against Alabama and 82-68 against Vanderbilt. Both games were in the O’Connell Center in Gainesville.

LSU is three games ahead of Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky all at 8-4 in the chase for the SEC overall regular season championship. South Carolina and Kentucky play on Wednesday night in the league so an LSU win would eliminate all but the SC-UK winner from a chance at the league title. An LSU win Tuesday would guarantee LSU no worse than a tie for its 10th all-time conference crown. LSU’s magic number is two to win the league outright.

But right now all Coach Trent Johnson is concerned with is Florida, not the rankings, the standings or the bright lights that go with TV.

“Florida Tuesday is the most important game because it is the next game,” Johnson said earlier Monday at a media session. “We need to concentrate on just doing the things that put us in this situation and not worry about anything else. It’s still another game. To be able to compete at a high level is the most important thing. It’s not how many people might be watching it on television because those watching on TV haven’t been in the locker room from Day 1 and know how hard these guys have had to work to get better whether it’s our team or any college basketball team. If you lose sight of what you have been doing in practice every day and start playing for TV you are not going to be able to play to the standards you want to play.”

With Bo Spencer showing no ill effects after returning to play on Saturday, he will trigger the three guard offense with Marcus Thornton and Garrett Temple at the other guards, along with Chris Johnson at center and Tasmin Mitchell at forward. All five players were in double figures scoring in the win over Auburn. Thornton is averaging 20.5 points per game with Mitchell cashing in at a 16.8 points per game clip and Spencer is at 11.7.

After Tuesday’s contest, LSU will travel to Lexington on Saturday for a 3 p.m. game with Kentucky.