Ward and Cook “Day-to-Day” as LSU Attempts to Rebound Against Georgia in PMAC on Tuesday Night

LSU guard Jalen Cook announced he is declaring for the NBA draft after an up and down season. PHOTO by LSU Athletics

LSU basketball’s two-game win streak was snapped in a blowout loss to Mississippi State on Saturday and now the Tigers (14-13, 6-8 SEC) will have a rematch with Georgia (15-12, 5-9 SEC) this Tuesday at 6 p.m. from the PMAC.

In the first matchup LSU fell 68-66 after a three-point play from Russel Tchewa gave the Bulldogs the lead with just two seconds to go. Both teams are coming off big losses as Georgia fell to Auburn 97-76 on Saturday.

LSU might be down Tyrell Ward and Jalen Cook for the game. Head coach Matt McMahon described both players as “day-to-day.” Ward was injured in the game against Mississippi State and didn’t come out after halftime while Cook has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury.

“Tyrell Ward was injured in the first half on Saturday,” McMahon said. “He’s day-to-day. It’s a hip injury. We’ll see how he is in practice today. Obviously, that hurt us. He’s been our best player the last five games. Jalen Cook remains day-to-day with leg soreness. I don’t have anything definitive for tomorrow night on Cook or Ward. We’ll see how they are in practice today and shootaround tomorrow.”

In the first matchup with Georgia, Cook led LSU in scoring with 21 points while shooting 8-for-17 from the field. He leads LSU in points per game this season with 15.6.

Ward has been a bright spot in recent weeks for LSU. He led the Tigers in points in the wins over Kentucky and South Carolina and made the game-winning shot against Kentucky at the buzzer.

If Ward and Cook can’t play tomorrow, LSU will likely have to lean on Trae Hannibal, Jordan Wright and Jalen Reed to lead them to a win.

“I think [Hannibal’s] rebounding has been huge,” McMahon said. “I don’t think it’s any secret we’ve struggled at times on the defensive glass this year and he’s had a stretch here where he’s around six and a half, seven rebounds per game. And then defensively, with his strength and athleticism and his ability to guard multiple positions, that’s been important for us.”

Hannibal led LSU in points and rebounds in the loss to Mississippi State on Saturday with 22 points and six rebounds.

“Jalen [Reed] is a unique player at 6-foot-10, 240 pounds he’s not a back to the basket post player,” McMahon said. “He’s a really skilled ball handler and passer. He’s an unselfish player and has an elite ability to get to the basket and finish plays. I think you saw that on display with the game at South Carolina and again against Kentucky.”  

Reed scored 13 points in each of the wins over Kentucky and South Carolina. Against Kentucky, he scored 12 points in the second half alone.

In the first matchup with Georgia, Wright was second on the team in points with 18. He was also the play LSU went to with the final shot of the game that came up just short.

“I think we’ve learned a lot,” McMahon said. “We just finished an SEC gauntlet here where we played six teams in a row that’ll be seeded top eight in the NCAA Tournament. I think we’ve gotten a lot better through that stretch. We finally found a way to get over the hump and win a couple of those one-possession games late. Seems like it was a long time ago that first Georgia game.”

After Georgia, LSU has road trips to Vanderbilt and Arkansas before finishing up the regular season at home against Missouri.

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Will Nickel

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