No. 13 LSU aims to get back on track vs. No. 24 Tennessee
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Much has changed for LSU and Tennessee since the Southeastern Conference rivals met two weeks ago.
The No. 13 Tigers (15-3, 3-3, SEC) lost starting point guard Xavier Pinson to a knee injury against the Volunteers and he hasn't played since. Darius Days, the team's second-leading scorer (13.5 points per game) and leading rebounder (7.3), injured an ankle in a 70-67 loss at Alabama on Wednesday.
Pinson and Days are both questionable for Saturday's game against No. 24 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.
The Volunteers (12-5, 3-3) bounced back from a 28-point loss to Kentucky last Saturday to defeat Vanderbilt three days later after coach Rick Barnes tweaked his starting lineup.
LSU coach Will Wade said he was "really proud" of his team after it fought back from a 13-point deficit despite losing Day late in the first half.
"We've obviously got to clean up the turnovers and the defensive rebounding, but to come in here and battle like this when we're not at full strength was good to see," Wade said. "When we get everybody back healthy, it's going to be tough on opponents. I'm really proud of our guys. I'm really pleased with how they fought tonight.
"... We're going to get our guys as healthy as we can, go to Knoxville and fight our (butts) off again on Saturday night."
The Tigers are committing an average of 16.3 turnovers in SEC play. They have committed more fouls than their opponent in each of their six conference games.
Tari Eason, who averages a team-best 16.0 points per game, led the comeback against the Crimson Tide with a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds. He had 24 and 12, respectively, when the Tigers posted a 79-67 win over Tennessee on Jan. 8 in Baton Rouge, La.
Pinson was injured in the second half of that game.
LSU is averaging 14.8 turnovers per game, however it has committed an average of 17.3 in the three full games that Pinson has missed.
The Volunteers had 14 steals among Vanderbilt's 21 turnovers.
Uros Plavsic scored 12 points in the previous encounter against LSU. He got the start over senior John Fulkerson, who had started all 14 previous games in which he had played.
"He has made some winning plays for us," Barnes said of Plavsic. "He really played well in the Kentucky game. From what we asked him to do in that game, he really did a nice job and he came back and carried it over."
In his third start of the campaign, Plavsic had a season-high 13 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes versus Vanderbilt.
The score was tied at 60 with less than a minute remaining before Plavsic grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a putback, igniting Tennessee's closing 8-0 run.
"I was proud of them with the way they showed the grit that we needed," Barnes said. "It was a total team win."
Tennessee made six straight free throws to close the game. The Volunteers finished 25 of 29 at the line.
"I thought we looked confident there," Barnes said.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 21, 2022