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Something to play for

The LSU men’s basketball team, which has come from 0-4 down in the Southeastern Conference to 7-7, enters the final two weeks of the regular season with a chance to possibly improve its tournament seeding when it faces Arkansas Wednesday night at 7 p.m. CT at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Johnny Jones has LSU in position to play for something in March

LSU is 16-9 overall and its 7-7 record puts it in a two-way tie for eighth place. Arkansas is 17-10 and 8-6 in the league, and tied for fifth with Missouri and Tennessee.

This begins a four-game stretch where the Tigers play four games in 10 days with road games at Missouri and Texas A&M, followed by the home and regular season finale against Ole Miss.

If LSU can win three of the next four they would have an excellent shot of making the NIT despite what happens in the conference tournament. Even a split would give LSU something to play for and that is more than many expected from this group.

However, Jones knows that a strong finish and a run in the SEC tournament could possibly lead to something even bigger.

“It will be a challenge for us,” said head coach Johnny Jones. “You want to be playing well at the right time. If we can do a great job in these last four leading into the conference tournament, it would mean a lot for us.

“You want to get hot at the right time. If you can get in that tournament and win you a couple of games, anything can happen. That’s something that we look forward to, and I think anybody can make a run in that conference tournament.”

LSU is coming off the exciting 97-94 triple overtime win over Alabama on Saturday afternoon while Arkansas had its three-game win streak broken with a 71-54 loss at No. 4 Florida.

Arkansas has two projected starters in double figures for second year head coach Mike Anderson – BJ Young who is averaging 15.7 points per game and has eight 20-point games, and Marshawn Powell at 14.8 points per contest and the team’s leading rebounder at 5.2 a game.

Young is someone that Jones feels LSU has to contain for the Tigers to come up with a win.

“Well, our goal is to try to just contain him, just like people do Anthony (Hickey),” said Jones. “You catch him out there in the open floor, and they’re extremely good. We’ve got to try to do a great job of staying down in front of him and make sure that we try to limit the plays that he’s going to make because he’s going to make plays.

“We’re just hopeful that we can do a great job as a team. It’s a real strong, or tough, assignment just for one individual. So, it will definitely be a group effort.”

For the first time since 1992 when Arkansas joined the league, this will be the only meeting of the teams in the regular season. LSU took two of three meetings last year, winning in Baton Rouge and in New Orleans at the SEC Tournament.

LSU has won six-of-the-last-nine in the series but Arkansas still has a 31-24 advantage. The Tigers lead in games played in Baton Rouge, 13-10.

LSU is 5-2 in SEC games in the Maravich Center, having won five straight since losing its first two home games to Florida and South Carolina. Arkansas is 7-0 at home this year in the league, but just 1-6 away from Bud Walton Arena, having defeated Auburn on the road.

LSU will go with Malik Morgan (5.7 ppg) and Anthony Hickey (11.9 ppg, 4.0 ast, 3.3 spg) at the guards along with either Andre Stringer or Charles Carmouche.

Stringer did not start the Alabama game because of a minor foot problem but came in later to hit three-of-three from the arc and score 10 points. Carmouche equaled the most minutes ever played in a triple overtime game by an LSU player, 54, in recording his second double-double of the year against Alabama with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Johnny O’Bryant III (14.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg), averaging 22 points over the course of the last two games, will start at forward with center Andre Del Piero (4.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

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