GAME NOTES: Hoping to keep their perfect record intact, the LSU Tigers face a first-time foe in the Chattanooga Mocs at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.
LSU, which is opening the 2012-13 campaign with six straight home dates before hitting the road on Friday to battle the Boise State Broncos at Taco Bell Arena, is a perfect 5-0 at this stage. The team has been out of action though since Nov. 29 when it topped Seton Hall, 72-67, as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge.
Meanwhile, Chattanooga has been roughed up in the early going with just two victories in eight opportunities and only one of those against another Division I program (Kennesaw State). Since that 65-51 win over Owls, the Mocs have bowed to two more opponents in Davidson (81-55) and Eastern Kentucky (63-52), the latest coming on Saturday.
The Mocs fell behind right out of the gate versus Eastern Kentucky over the weekend, 11-0, and never recovered as the team registered a season low for points and was held below 60 for the second straight outing. The squad made a total of just 18 field goals and was charged with 21 turnovers, all while shooting only 2-of-10 behind the three-point line. Drazen Zlovaric was the lone double-digit scorer for the program with 12 points as he knocked down all but one of his six shots from the floor. Z. Mason tallied six points and a team-best nine rebounds in the setback. For a team that is producing just 63.0 ppg at the moment, Mason is the lone double-digit scorer with his 11.0 ppg, but as he showed against EKU he's not guaranteed to come up with significant points on a regular basis. Zlovaric (9.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) trails Mason in both scoring and rebounding, but the two are tied with 15 turnovers but have combined for just seven assists in more than 400 minutes of action.
Trailing by eight points at the break against Seton Hall the last time out a couple weeks ago, the Tigers reversed their fortunes in the second half as they went from just 32.4 percent shooting from the floor to 48.3 percent. It also helped that LSU outscored the Pirates by 10 points in the second half at the free-throw line as well. Shavon Coleman came off the bench to tally 18 points, Johnny O'Bryant III responded with 13 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer with 10 points apiece. Hickey, who added six steals and five rebounds, won't be available for this game however because he was suspended indefinitely on Dec. 7 by head coach Johnny Jones for a violation of athletic department and university policies. With Hickey out of the picture, it means the team will have to make up for his 10.2 ppg and the fact that he had twice as many assists (26) as anyone else on the roster. Still, Coleman (17.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and O'Bryant (12.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg) are present to maintain stability.
Averaging close to 18 turnovers makes it difficult to win games and that's what is happening right now for the Mocs. LSU has more than enough firepower to cruise to the win.
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