Three storylines for tonight’s Georgia-LSU basketball game in Athens:
1. Standings and seedings.
A Georgia win would send the Bulldogs into the final weekend of the regular season in a three-way tie with Kentucky and Vanderbilt for second place in the SEC East. Kentucky’s win over Vandy last night made both of those teams 9-6 in the league, and Georgia takes an 8-6 record into tonight’s game.
However, for SEC tournament seeding purposes, Georgia would lose tiebreakers to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. (First tiebreaker is record vs. tied team(s); second is divisional record.) So to get the No. 2 East seed and first-round bye, Georgia would need to finish ahead of — not tied with — those teams in the standings. For that to happen, Georgia would need to beat LSU and Alabama (Saturday in Tuscaloosa), while Kentucky would need to lose at Tennessee (Sunday) and Vanderbilt would need to lose at home to Florida (Saturday).
And, hey, here’s another possibility in the jumbled East: Georgia, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Tennessee (the Vols are currently 7-7) could finish in a four-way tie for second place with 9-7 records. In that case, Georgia would be the No. 5 East seed.
Got all that?
2. Stegeman Coliseum farewells.
This is the final home game for Georgia seniors Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes, who will be honored in a pregame Senior Night cerermony. (Well, it will be their last game at Stegeman unless Georgia drops into the NIT and plays a home game. But let’s not go there today.) Price and Barnes have been through a lot in their UGA careers, but both have persevered and are going out on a high note.
“It’s going to be special for us,” Price said of tonight’s game.
“It’s going to be a very emotional time,” Barnes said.
Tonight also could prove to be the final home game for Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, juniors who could head to the NBA after this season.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Leslie said Tuesday. “Whatever I’ve got planned for the future, that’s up to me and my family. So we’ll decide that whenever.”
Thompkins wasn’t available to reporters Tuesday because he was getting treatment for what coach Mark Fox called “a minor thing on his foot.” Said Fox: “He’ll be fine.” And for the record, as you’d imagine, Fox said the players won’t address the NBA issue until after the season.
Mark Bradley assesses the NBA stock of Thompkins and Leslie here.
3. Friendly competition.
Fox will be coaching against his close friend and former boss, LSU’s Trent Johnson.
They were assistants at Washington in the early 1990s, when Johnson introduced Fox to his wife Cindy. Fox later was Johnson’s top assistant at Nevada and became head coach there when Johnson left for Stanford.
“Like I told my team, I don’t think I’m anywhere professionally without him,” Fox said Monday.
“As close a friend as I have,” he added Tuesday.
Fox and Johnson coached against each other for the first time last season -– LSU won 50-48 -– but they had competed against one another many times before.
“Twenty years ago, we would go play pick-up basketball and always end up on different teams because we were the two biggest guys,” Fox said. “So we had to guard each other. He’s Boise State’s all-time leader in fouls, so you know what that probably meant to go against him.”
— Tim Tucker, AJC