Georgia, LSU conclude rebuilding seasons at SEC tournament


Eleventh-seeded Georgia hopes a deep run in the SEC tournament leads to a postseason invitation when it faces 14th-seeded LSU in the first round on Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn.

While Georgia (16-15, 6-12 SEC) and LSU (13-18, 2-16) would need to win the conference tournament to make the NCAA tournament, the Bulldogs could be selected for the National Invitation Tournament with a strong showing.

The winner advances to face sixth-seeded Vanderbilt (18-13, 11-7) on Thursday.

Georgia hasn’t played in the postseason since losing in the first round of the NIT in 2017. The Bulldogs last won the SEC tournament in 2008 after going 4-12 in league play.

LSU won’t qualify for its fourth straight NCAA Tournament unless it earns the automatic bid by winning its first SEC tournament since 1980.

Georgia heads to Nashville on a season-high five-game losing streak after falling 61-55 at South Carolina on Saturday.

“It’s a new chapter,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “Everyone gets a clean slate. Anything can happen in conference tournaments and it’s our last chapter. How are we going to respond to struggling in the win/loss column down the stretch?”

LSU has dropped three straight games and 17 of its past 18 contests after squandering a 12-point lead early in the second half of a 79-67 loss at Florida on Saturday.

“This is a unique arrival to the postseason. For us it has to be about being 0-0 and having nothing to lose,” LSU first-year coach Matt McMahon said. “Let’s bring a lot of energy and play with great effort.”

The Bulldogs are much-improved overall after losing an SEC-record 26 games last season.

LSU’s 13 wins are its fewest in a season since going 10-21 during the 2016-17 season.

Georgia is led by Terry Roberts’ 13.3 points, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Kario Oquendo is the only other Bulldog who averages in double figures in scoring, chipping in 12.8 points per game. Braelen Bridges and Justin Hill each average 8.5 points per game.

LSU is powered by KJ Williams, who has team-high averages in points (17.4), rebounds (7.6) and steals (1.2), while Adam Miller is the Tigers’ only other double-digit scorer (11.8 ppg). Derek Fountain and Cam Hayes each average 8.0 points per game.

Georgia defeated visiting LSU 65-63 on Hill’s layup with 4.2 seconds left in the teams’ regular-season meeting on Feb. 14.

–Field Level Media

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