NIT First Round
Oregon Ducks vs. LSU Tigers
Records: LSU (18-14), Oregon (22-9)
NIT History: LSU (6 appearances), Oregon (10 appearances)
Coaches: Trent Johnson (4th year at LSU, 58-59 at school, 226-184 overall), Dana Altman (2nd year at Oregon, 43-27 at school, 453-270 overall)
Unlike the football showdown between the two schools, tonight's opening round game between the Bayou Bengals and Ducks in Eugene will be more about extending the season than anything else.
The Tigers, in their first NIT appearance since 2004, is looking to win their first NIT game since 2002 when they advanced to the second round and build on what has been a moderately successful season in the Red Stick while Oregon, which won 20 games for the second year in a row under Dana Altman, is looking to put their NCAA snub behind them.
For LSU, it will be about the play of Justin Hamilton as well as Anthony Hickey. Against Kentucky, Hickey showed why he's primed to be one of the best point guards in the SEC, collecting five steals in the loss to the Wildcats. The goal for Hickey is to limit his mistakes and continue developing as a floor general for the Tigers.
In the case of Hamilton, who is by far one of the best big men in the SEC, he has to play like a man tonight if the Tigers want to win. On Friday against Kentucky, Hamilton was 1-12 from the field, with four points and seven rebounds, far from below his season averages.
For LSU, this NIT bid is a building block towards next season. With most of the squad returning to Baton Rouge, an NCAA bid should be in the cards for the Bayou Bengals in 2013.
Game time is 8 p.m.