Even for someone whose team has dropped six consecutive games away from home, facing South Carolina on the road is not the scary part for Will Wade.
Facing a South Carolina team that flexed its muscles in knocking out Georgia twice, by seven and nine points, is the really scary part.
That was one of things that went through Wade's mind after the LSU basketball team was manhandled at Georgia on Saturday by what seemed to be more than the final margin of 93-82.
In studying video before that game, Wade noted how South Carolina handled a Georgia team that’s just physical as the Gamecocks — noting the most recent matchup of those two teams a week ago resembled a wrestling match.
That’s the tall order LSU (16-12, 7-9 Southeastern Conference) is facing as it heads into an important matchup against South Carolina (15-14, 6-10) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Colonial Life Arena.
It’s a critical contest for both teams as far as their postseason aspirations are concerned with just one more regular-season game remaining after tonight.
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While it’s unlikely either team can earn an NCAA tournament bid, barring a very deep run in the SEC tournament next week, their NIT hopes are alive.
LSU is trying to get to a postseason tournament one year after a disastrous 10-21 season, while South Carolina, which has lost seven of its past nine games, is trying to salvage something after reaching the Final Four a year ago.
Both are projected in the 32-team NIT field by nycbuckets.com; LSU as a No. 4 seed and South Carolina a No. 5 in the four eight-team brackets.
But the present will be the only thing on Wade’s mind tonight after LSU was outrebounded 49-34 by Georgia. The Bulldogs also scored a season-high 93 points despite being last in the SEC in scoring at 68.3 points per game.
"The game on Saturday against Georgia was tough. ... We got physically whipped, physically annihilated, a little bit down there,” Wade said. “The scary part is South Carolina has beaten Georgia twice.
“South Carolina has pretty much done the same thing to Georgia that Georgia did to us. They’re tough … they’re physical.”
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The problems begin with All-SEC candidate Chris Silva, a 6-foot-9 forward, and frontline partner Maik Kotsar, a 6-10, 260-pounder.
Silva averages 14.1 points per game for a South Carolina team that ranks 13th in the league in scoring 69.3 points a game, just ahead of Georgia, which now scores 69.2 per game thanks to its offensive explosion against LSU.
Silva also ranks fourth in the SEC in collecting 7.8 rebounds a game.
The presence of Silva and Kotsar, who averages 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds, is significant considering LSU was pounded on Saturday by Georgia’s duo of Yante Maten and Derek Ogbeide.
They combined for 37 points and 21 rebounds, with Maten shredding the Tigers for 27 points and 11 rebounds, while LSU tried to combat them down low with Aaron Epps and Duop Reath, who had four points and seven rebounds between them.
“Obviously, we struggled with Ogbeide and Maten and they have Silva and Kotsar and all sorts of different guys,” Wade said. “They shoot it better than Georgia does and they are so physical, so tough defensively.
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“We kind of lost our mind a little bit on the road a couple times. For whatever reason, we’ve been able to withstand one punch on the road, it’s the second punch that’s really knocked us out.”
The ability to hang around with teams like Alabama, Florida and Tennessee well into the second half on the road is encouraging, but the question is can they do it at South Carolina.
“It’s no secret we’ve struggled with tougher, more physical grind-it-out type teams, and South Carolina is certainly that,” Wade said, noting that keeping the rebounding margin manageable would be a big help. “We have to be able to guard them inside and not let them have layup lines at the front of the rim.
“We gave up over 90 points to a team (at Georgia) that struggles to score 60 points most days. That was problematic.”
WHAT: LSU at South Carolina
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, S.C.
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7
UP NEXT: vs. Mississippi State, noon Saturday (SEC Network)
• With six steals in a loss Saturday at Georgia, LSU guard Skylar Mays now has at least one in 12 consecutive games.
• South Carolina has scored 80 points or more only four times this season. Its high game was 84 in a win over Auburn.
• Carolina ranks last in the SEC in league games in field-goal accuracy, hitting just 36.9 percent in its first 16 games.
LSU (16-12, 7-9 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Tremont Waters 5-11 Fr. 15.6 5.8*
G Skylar Mays 6-4 So. 11.4 4.0
G Daryl Edwards 6-3 Jr. 7.0 1.5
F Aaron Epps 6-10 Sr. 9.6 6.0
F Duop Reath 6-11 Sr. 12.6 5.2
F Wayde Sims 6-6 So. 5.9 3.1
G Brandon Sampson 6-5 Jr. 7.3 2.5
G Randy Onwuasor 6-3 Sr. 4.7 2.1
South Carolina (15-14, 6-10 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Hassani Gravett 6-2 Jr. 7.8 3.6*
G Evan Hinson 6-4 Sr. 3.2 1.4
F Justin Minaya 6-5 Fr. 7.9 4.3
F Chris Silva 6-9 Jr. 14.1 7.8
F Maik Kotsar 6-10 So. 7.7 4.8
G Frank Booker 6-3 Sr. 11.5 3.2
F Felipe Haase 6-9 Fr. 6.1 4.1
G Wesley Myers 6-1 Sr. 7.3 2.3