Marquette-LSU Preview

The Associated Press

Undefeated Marquette didn't miss a beat despite the absence of its leading scorer last game.

With Darius Johnson-Odom back in action, the 10th-ranked Golden Eagles seem all the more likely to give LSU all it can handle as they visit Baton Rouge on Monday night.

Marquette (10-0), on the verge of its first 11-0 start since 1972-73, is expected to be near full strength after Johnson-Odom was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules and held out of Saturday's 93-72 victory over Northern Colorado.

In place of the senior guard, freshman Todd Mayo stepped up with a season-high 22 points in his first start.

"I am not sure he could have responded any better than he did," coach Buzz Williams said. "Our guys were a lot better today after a week off, playing without our leading scorer and a guy who can probably create his shot as well as anybody in the country."

In addition to Johnson-Odom, who ranks fourth in the Big East with an average of 18.8 points, Mayo, Jae Crowder and Vander Blue are all averaging in double figures. Crowder is putting up 17.6 points per game while Mayo and Blue are averaging a combined 22.6.

"Marquette is a very complete basketball team. What impresses you the most about them is that they're very, very aggressive. They're always in 'attack-mode'," Tigers coach Trent Johnson said. "There is a nucleus of about seven or eight guys who were probably aggressive and mentally tough at birth."

"It's a good challenge for us."

The Golden Eagles are likely to be without starting center Chris Otule, who has been sidelined since straining his knee Dec. 6. Freshman forward Juan Anderson, who had missed a game due to a shoulder injury, played eight minutes Saturday.

After a 3-3 start, the Tigers (7-3) seem to have turned a corner, taking four straight to match their longest winning streak from last season. LSU hasn't won five in a row since Dec. 1-19, 2009.

Despite shooting a season-low 31.3 percent Thursday, the Tigers held on to defeat UC-Irvine 66-59. Center Justin Hamilton posted 14 points and a season-best 11 rebounds as LSU avoided a second-half collapse after leading by as many as 14 points prior to the break.

While Johnson has been pleased with the Tigers' recent success, he's looking forward to how they respond to their toughest competition to date.

"In terms of a measuring stick, there is no question. With this basketball team at this time in the year, yes this is a good measuring stick to find out where we are and how far we have grown," he said.

Since knocking off then-No. 22 Butler 75-71 in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament, the Tigers have dropped 11 straight meetings versus Top 25 foes by an average of 15.8 points. LSU's last home victory over a ranked opponent came Feb. 24, 2007, 66-56 over then-No. 3 Florida.

Marquette took the only previous meeting in this series, beating the Pete Maravich-led Tigers 101-79 in the 1970 NIT tournament semifinals.

LSU guard Andre Stringer, averaging a team-best 12.1 points, missed the previous two games due to fainting and dizzy spells and is unlikely to be available.

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