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LSU forward Martin earns top play nod on ESPN

LSU forward Jarell Martin’s steal at midcourt and between-the-legs windmill dunk in Saturday’s game with Florida was the No. 1 play in the Top Plays segment on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Martin’s slam late in the first half brought the Pete Maravich Assemby Center crowd to its feet and energized his team, which had just given up 13 unanswered points to the Gators.

The dunk, which was part of a career-high 28-point performance for Martin, gave LSU a 28-26 lead with just under two minutes to play and the Tigers never trailed again en route to the 70-63 win.

Opening Tip: Florida at LSU

Opening Tip is posted about five hours before each game this season.

General Info

  • What: Florida (13-13, 6-7 SEC) at LSU (18-8, 7-6 SEC)
  • When: Noon Saturday
  • Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
  • All-time series: LSU leads 61-43
  • Last meeting: LSU 79, Florida 61 (at Gainesville, Jan. 20, 2015)
  • TV: CBS
  • Radio: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 870; WWL-FM, 105.3; KLWB-FM, 103.7
  • In game Twitter updates: @MicklesAdvocate
  • Up next: LSU will visit Auburn at 6 p.m. Tuesday (ESPNU)

Starting Five

  • SNAPPING THE STREAK: With a satisfying 79-61 belting of Florida at Gainesville on Jan. 20, LSU emphatically snapped a six-game losing streak against the Gators. Florida’s streak included two wins in the PMAC in 2011 and 2013, with the Tigers’ last victory coming in 2009.
  • SHOOTING THEM DOWN: LSU is 18-2 this season when it outshoots its opponent from the field. In their earlier meeting, the Tigers knocked down 51.9 percent of their shots to just 38.3 percent for the Gators. LSU’s two losses when outshooting the opponent were to Kentucky and Auburn.
  • MARTIN & MICKEY: When the teams played in Gainesville, LSU forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey had their way inside against the Florida defense. They combined for 36 points and 22 rebounds with Martin going for 22 points and eight rebounds, while Mickey had 14 and 14.
  • IN THE HUNT: According to PlayoffStatus.com, as of Friday, LSU had a 75 percent chance of making the NCAA tournament. The Tigers also had a 38 percent chance of earning the No. 5 seed for the SEC tournament, which begins March 11 in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • TITO’S SON: Florida center Jon Horford, a transfer from Michigan, is the son of Tito Horford, a 7-foot-1 center who signed with LSU in 1985 but was kicked off the team before ever playing a game for the Tigers. Tito Horford’s other son, Al, played for the Gators and is now with the Atlanta Hawks.

Know Your Opponent

  • Florida comes to Baton Rouge a depleted team with its top two scorers — guard Michael Frazier II and forward Dorian Finney-Smith — not available for the game. Frazier will miss his fourth consecutive game with a high ankle sprain and Finney-Smith was indefinitely suspended by coach Billy Donovan on Wednesday for a violation of team rules. That’s a cruel double hit for the Gators because those two combine for 26.1 points — or 40.3 percent of the team’s scoring — and 10.4 rebounds, or 30.1 percent of the team’s total. Florida was already having trouble scoring with that duo in the lineup, getting just 60.8 points a game in their last nine outings before the Gators scored 50 in a three-point win over Vanderbilt on Wednesday night with both players out. UF’s leading scorer on the floor today will be guard Eli Carter, who averages 8.6 points per game.

The Lineups

Florida (13-13, 6-7 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Kasey Hill, 6-1, So., 7.2 ppg, 4.5 apg
  • G Eli Carter, 6-2, Jr., 8.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg
  • F Devin Robinson, 6-8, Fr., 5.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg
  • F Alex Murphy, 6-8, Jr., 5.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg
  • C Jon Horford, 6-10, Sr., 6.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg

Top reserves

  • F Chris Walker, 6-10, So., 5.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg
  • F Jacob Kurtz, 6-6, Sr., 4.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg
  • G Chris Chiozza, 6-0, Fr., 4.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg

LSU (18-8, 7-6 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Jalyn Patterson, 6-1, Fr., 5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg
  • G Keith Hornsby, 6-4, Jr., 12.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
  • G Tim Quarterman, 6-6, So., 11.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg
  • F Jarell Martin, 6-10, So., 15.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg
  • F Jordan Mickey, 6-8, So., 16.7 ppg, 10.6 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Josh Gray, 6-1, Jr., 8.1 ppg, 4.2 apg
  • C Darcy Malone, 7-0, So., 1.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg
  • F Brian Bridgewater, 6-5, So., 2.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg

LSU men still on ESPN.com’s NCAA bracket

After dropping only one spot on the NCAA.com RPI to 54th following Tuesday’s 68-62 road loss to Texas A&M, LSU remained on the NCAA tournament bracket of ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi that was updated Thursday morning.

LSU was penciled in on Lunardi’s bracket as the No. 11 seed in the West regional, facing sixth-seeded SMU in a second-round game. Interestingly, SMU eliminated LSU from the NIT last spring.

Lunardi, who lists six Southeastern Conference teams on his updated bracket, has LSU as one of his last four teams in the 68-team tournament that will receive first-round byes. The others are Cincinnati, Illinois and UCLA.

In the latest ESPN.com rating percentage index, LSU, which will host Florida at noon on Saturday, comes in at No. 51.

Opening Tip: LSU at Texas A&M

Opening Tip is posted about five hours before each game this season.

General Info

  • What: LSU (18-7, 7-5 SEC) at Texas A&M (17-7, 8-4 SEC)
  • When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
  • Where: Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
  • All-time series: LSU leads 17-13
  • Last meeting: Texas A&M 67, LSU 64 (at Baton Rouge, Jan. 17, 2015)
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Radio: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 870; WWL-FM, 105.3; KLWB-FM, 103.7
  • In game Twitter updates: @MicklesAdvocate
  • Up next: LSU will host Florida on Saturday at noon (CBS)

Starting Five

  • JOIN THE CLUB: LSU forward Jordan Mickey needs just two blocked shots to become only the second player in school history with 200, joining Shaquille O’Neal (412). Mickey leads the Southeastern Conference and is second in the nation with 3.8 blocks per game.
  • HITTING THE MARK: Despite some sporadic trouble at the free-throw line, four of LSU’s starters are hitting better than 70.0 percent from the stripe. Mickey, the fifth starter, is making 67.8 percent while the Tigers are making 69.9 percent as a team. Jalyn Patterson leads the team at 76.9 percent.
  • SECOND-HALF SURGE: Texas A&M, which took a 67-64 win at LSU on Jan. 17 after erasing a 13-point second-half deficit, has scored 140 more points in the second half than the first this season (873-733). But, the Aggies have also allowed more points in the second half (782-687).
  • NEW LOOK: LSU will look different to Texas A&M than in their first meeting a month ago today. Guards Jalyn Patterson and Tim Quarterman will be starting after coming off the bench that day, replacing guard Josh Gray and center John Odo in the lineup.
  • SWEET WIN: A&M coach Billy Kennedy, a Metairie native, beat his homestate team for only the second time when the Aggies won in the PMAC in January. Kennedy, a Southeastern graduate and former Lions coach is now 2-5 all-time against LSU and is 278-235 in four head coaching stops.

Know Your Opponent

  • After being tabbed for a ninth-place finish in a preseason poll of SEC media in October, Texas A&M is shooting for a first-division finish. A&M is 8-4 and is tied for third with Ole Miss — a game behind second-place Arkansas — after getting off to a rocky 0-2 start. The Aggies used a 67-64 upset of LSU on Jan. 17 as a springboard to win seven of their last nine games with the only losses to Ole Miss and Georgia. Despite the win over LSU, A&M is only 2-3 against teams that are currently in the top half of the conference going into tonight’s play. The Aggies have an experienced team with two seniors and three juniors in the starting lineup, a group led by guard Danuel House and guard/forward Jalen Jones. They had 18 points in the huge win at LSU last month. That duo combines for nearly 28 points and 10 rebounds per game. Point guard Alex Caruso leads the SEC in assists with 5.8 a game.

The Lineups

LSU (18-7, 7-5 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Jalyn Patterson, 6-1, Fr., 5.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg
  • G Keith Hornsby, 6-4, Jr., 12.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg
  • G Tim Quarterman, 6-6, So., 11.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg
  • F Jarell Martin, 6-10, So., 15.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg
  • F Jordan Mickey, 6-8, So., 17.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Josh Gray, 6-1, Jr., 8.3 ppg, 4.2 apg
  • C Darcy Malone, 7-0, So., 1.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg
  • F Brian Bridgewater, 6-5, So., 2.2 ppg, 0.8 rpg

Texas A&M (17-7, 8-4 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Alex Caruso, 6-5, Jr., 9.1 ppg, 5.8 apg
  • G Danuel House, 6-7, Jr., 14.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg
  • G Jordan Green, 6-5, Sr., 5.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg
  • G/F Jalen Jones, 6-7, Jr., 13.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg
  • F Kourtney Roberson, 6-9, Sr., 8.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Alex Robinson, 6-1, Fr., 4.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg
  • G Peyton Allen, 6-5, Fr., 4.4 ppg, 0.8 rpg
  • F Antwan Space, 6-8, Jr., 4.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg

LSU moves up slightly in RPI after road win against Tennessee

The LSU men’s basketball team’s dominating road win at Tennessee on Saturday moved the Tigers up slightly in the daily rating percentage index (RPI) of NCAA.com and ESPN.com.

LSU crushed Tennessee 73-55 in Knoxville on Saturday to enhance its NCAA tournament chances — for now — as the Tigers moved up four spots to 53rd on the NCAA.com list and went to 50th on the ESPN.com RPI updated Monday.

LSU can make an even bigger move with a win Tuesday night against Texas A&M in College Station. The Aggies are 44th on both the NCAA and ESPN lists after a one-point win Saturday night at home against Florida.

LSU (18-7, 7-5 Southeastern Conference) remained on the projected NCAA tournament brackets of ESPN.com and CBSSports.com.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has LSU as a No. 11 seed in the Midwest regional, playing No. 6 Providence in a second-round matchup. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com has the Tigers as a No. 10 seed in the West facing seventh-seeded St. John’s.

Opening Tip: LSU at Tennessee

Opening Tip is posted about five hours before each game this season.

General Info

  • What: LSU (17-7, 6-5 SEC) at Tennessee (14-9, 6-5 SEC)
  • When: 3 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • All-time series: Tennessee leads 62-43
  • Last meeting: Tennessee 68, LSU 50 (at Baton Rouge, Jan. 7, 2014)
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Radio: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 870; WWL-FM, 105.3; KLWB-FM, 103.7
  • In game Twitter updates: @MicklesAdvocate
  • Up next: LSU will play at Texas A&M on Tuesday at 8 p.m. (SEC Network)

Starting Five

  • ON THE MARK: As can be expected, LSU has shot the ball better from the field in its wins than its losses. The Tigers are shooting 47.9 percent in their 17 victories and only 40.1 percent in their seven losses. That partly explains why LSU is scoring77.4 points a game in wins and only 66.6 in its losses.
  • ON THE ROAD: After posting a 2-7 record on the road in the SEC last season, a win over Tennessee would give LSU a 4-2 mark away from home this season. Going into Saturday’s play, road teams had compiled a respectable 34-43 in the conference this season.
  • FAMILIAR FACE: Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall began his Division I coaching career at LSU on John Brady’s staff in 1997. Tyndall, the youngest full-time assistant in the SEC at the time at 25, spent four seasons with the Tigers. He’s also been a head coach Morehead State and Southern Miss.
  • ON THE BALL: LSU freshman guard Jalyn Patterson had no turnovers against Kentucky, marking the seventh time in nine SEC games he didn’t give the ball away. He has just four in the other two league games and 14 in 22 games overall while averaging 20.8 minutes per game.
  • RICHARDSON KEY FOR UT:Tennessee point guard Josh Richardson, a 6-foot-6 junior. accounts for 24.9 percent of the Vols’ scoring with 16.1 points per game. Richardson also averages 3.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game as a leader on both ends of the floor.

Know Your Opponent

  • After starting conference play with a 4-1 record, Tennessee cooled off and sandwiched two-game losing streaks around a win to fall to 5-5 before the Vols rallied to send Thursday night’s game against Vanderbilt to overtime where UT prevailed 76-73. Point guard Josh Richardson, who leads the team in scoring at 16.1 points a game, had 27 against Vanderbilt on 10-of-18 shooting from the field. Tennessee ranks 12th in the SEC in scoring and ranks around the middle of the league in scoring defense even though the Vols are near the bottom in field-goal defense (42.7 percent) and 3-point field-goal defense (37.7 percent). Another problem for UT is a small lineup with only one of its top eight players, 6-foot-8 forward Willie Carmichael, standing taller than 6-6. As a result, Tennessee is last in the league in rebounds at 32.5 per game.

The Lineups

LSU (17-7, 6-5 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Jalyn Patterson, 6-1, Fr., 5.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg
  • G Keith Hornsby, 6-4, Jr., 12.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg
  • G Tim Quarterman, 6-6, So., 11.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg
  • F Jarell Martin, 6-10, So., 16.2 ppg, 9.0 rpg
  • F Jordan Mickey, 6-8, So., 17.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Josh Gray, 6-1, Jr., 8.5 ppg, 4.3 apg
  • C Darcy Malone, 7-0, So., 1.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg
  • F Brian Bridgewater, 6-5, So., 2.1 ppg, 0.9 rpg

Tennessee (14-9, 6-5 SEC)

Probable Starters

  • G Josh Richardson, 6-6, Jr., 16.1 ppg, 3.7 apg
  • G Kevin Punter, 6-4, Jr., 10.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg
  • G Robert Hubbs III, 6-6, So., 6.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg
  • F Armani Moore, 6-5, Jr., 10.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg
  • F Willie Carmichael, 6-8, Fr., 3.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg

Top reserves

  • F Derek Reese, 6-6, So., 7.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg
  • G Detrick Mostella, 6-1, Fr., 1.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg
  • G Devon Baulkman, 6-5, So., 2.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg

March 1 LSU-A&M women’s game time set

The LSU Lady Tigers’ March 1 regular season finale against Texas A&M will tip off at 1 p.m., the Southeastern Conference office announced Friday.

The game will be televised by ESPNU.

The LSU-Texas A&M game and Kentucky-South Carolina game on March 1 were part of a flex scheduling package by the SEC and ESPN which was announced at the beginning of the season.

The Lady Tigers, coming off an 86-62 loss Thursday at No. 1 South Carolina, return to action at 7 p.m. next Thursday against No. 24 Georgia in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. That game will only be shown online on SEC Network Plus.

LSU still on NCAA tournament brackets of Palm, Lunardi

CBSSports.com bracketology expert Jerry Palm still has the LSU men’s basketball team in the 68-team NCAA tournament field — but barely.

Palm’s latest bracket released Friday morning shows that LSU, which has lost three of its last four games going into Saturday’s game at Tennessee, would be one of the last four teams in the tournament.

Joining LSU as the last teams to get in on Palm’s bracket are Miami (Fla.), Michigan State and Boise State.

Palm has LSU and Miami as No. 11 seeds and pairs them for a first-round game at Dayton, Ohio, to open the tournament on either March 17 or 18 in what is known as the First Four.

Michigan State would go against Boise State in the other first-round game involving No. 12 seeds. Two other First Four games would have No. 16 seeds battling for the right to be placed into regular bracket.

In a mock tournament bracket selected by media members in Indianapolis on Thursday and Friday, LSU was tabbed as a 10th seed playing in the second round against No. 7 seed Ohio State in the East regional in Pittsburgh.

Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com has LSU (17-7, 6-5 Southeastern Conference) as a No. 11 seed in his bracket that was updated on Thursday. The Tigers are one of six SEC teams in Lunardi’s bracket.

LSU No. 10 seed in NCAA mock tournament selection

INDIANAPOLIS – If the season ended today, the LSU men’s basketball team would be in the NCAA tournament as a No. 10 seed. That’s the view, anyway, of the mock selection committee, a group of 20 media members who met here Thursday and Friday to go through the process of selecting the 68-team field.

In bracket decisions made Friday, LSU would be the No. 10 seed in the East Regional, taking on No. 7 Ohio State in a second-round game (first full round) in Pittsburgh. The East Regional teams wind up in Syracuse, N.Y.

LSU (17-7, 6-5 SEC) went through several voting rounds before being selected Friday morning. The Tigers got in despite their RPI dropping from 51 to 57 from Thursday to Friday.

Meanwhile Louisiana Tech, which got in the field as the projected Conference USA tournament champion, was picked as the No. 13 seed in the Midwest Regional. The Bulldogs were paired with No. 4 Iowa State in a second-round matchup in Louisville, Kentucky.

Twenty members of the media, including this writer, participated in the mock exercise at NCAA headquarters.

The real NCAA bracket will be revealed on Sunday, March 15. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who was not present at the mock selection meeting, is in his fourth year of a five-year term on the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee.

For more details on the mock selection process, check back at www.TheAdvocate.com and in Saturday and Sunday’s editions of The Advocate.

LSU men under consideration during NCAA mock tournament selection exercise

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA held its annual mock basketball tournament selection event Thursday, inviting 20 media members from around the country to participate in an exercise to simulate what the Men’s Division I Basketball Committee goes through to pick the field of 68 teams.

LSU (17-7 overall, 6-5 SEC) was one of the teams committee members voted on to place under consideration for an at-large berth during the exercise.

However, the Tigers were not voted into the field when about three-fourths of the field was selected at the end of Thursday’s meeting.

According to Final Four media coordinator David Worlock, about 10 at-large berths remain to be filled along with the remaining automatic qualifier berths.

For the purposes of the exercise a number of automatic qualifying berths were arbitrarily filled. Among those was placing Louisiana Tech in the field as the automatic qualifier as winner of the Conference USA tournament.

LSU entered Thursday ranked No. 51 in the official NCAA RPI. The Tigers’ RPI and their record has placed LSU squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Mock committee members (which include this reporter) are instructed to select at-large teams based on their current record, not to project how they may or may not do the rest of the season.

The mock selection committee seeded the top four seed lines in the tournament, though those seedings are subject to change.

Kentucky, Virginia, Duke and Wisconsin were selected as the No. 1 regional seeds.

The mock selection exercise concludes Friday, culminating with the release of a 68-team bracket. The actual NCAA tournament bracket will be revealed Sunday, March 15.

Visit www.TheAdvocate.com and follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter at @RabalaisAdv for updates.