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February 29, 2012

Special night

LSU will wrap up its home basketball season Wednesday night when Tennessee visits the PMAC.

The Tigers, who suffered a horrible 24-point loss at Ole Miss in their last outing, are in sixth place in the Southeastern Conference standings - one game behind both Alabama and Tennessee.

LSU needs one more victory to avoid a losing SEC record for just the second time since it appeared in the Final Four six seasons ago. The Tigers will play at Auburn on Saturday afternoon.

LSU is also attempting to get itself into the NIT. Therefore, the Tigers need as many victories as possible. Even with this scenario in place, LSU coach Trent Johnson will reward his three seniors against the Volunteers. Storm Warren, Chris Bass and Malcolm White will start against Tennessee.

Warren has been sharing starting assignments with Johnny O'Bryant this season. However, Bass and White have made a combined one start this season. So, it will be a special Senior Night for these two players, who will get the opportunity to start in their last home game.

"These three guys have been a focal part of this program in terms of their leadership," Johnson said. "Every day, Chris walks into this gym with a smile on his face. It is impressive for Malcolm not to lose sight of taking care of school and his role considering what he has gone through this year."

Both Bass and White have been starters throughout their LSU career before this season. Bass had made 21 starts before the current season. He has made one start this year. White started 31 of the Tigers' 32 games a year ago. He has not been in the starting lineup once so far this season.

However, the Tigers are winning more games. They have clinched a winning season as they take a 17-11 record into the Tennessee game. Bass was a freshman on the LSU team which won the SEC title. White played two seasons at Ole Miss before transferring to LSU. He sat out the 2009-10 campaign.

"We have a great team this year," Bass said. "We didn't pull out a lot of games last year. Then, we picked up Justin (Hamilton), Anthony (Hickey) and big Johnny (O'Bryant).

"I wanted to contribute any kind of way to help the team. I had not been in a situation where I sat for most of the second half in games. But, it's all about winning games. Everything has been working for us."

Bass has scored just 46 points this season. For his career, he has very unimpressive numbers - 1.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. However, Bass has made great strides off the court. He will get his undergraduate degree, like White and Warren, in May.

"I have made tremendous improvement off the court," Bass said. "I was in a hole in academics my freshman year. In my sophomore year, I got out of the hole and then I got back in it. But, everything happens for a reason. I redeemed myself in summer school going into my junior year.

"My brother (Brandon, who plays with the Boston Celtics) always tells me to focus on school. You can't play basketball your whole life."

It has been a challenging season for White, not only because he lost his starting job to Hamilton. His grandmother died at the beginning of the SEC schedule. Then, he was ejected from the Kentucky game for a flagrant foul against Anthony Davis. Johnson suspended White for a game.

White has gone from a starter to a backup, who is averaging just ten minutes a game. He has contributed just 81 points and 53 rebounds. White tripled those figures when he was in the starting lineup the previous season. White is satisfied with how this year has played out.

"I was never a type of player who wanted to play 20-to-30 minutes and score the ball," White said. "For any player, he should try to help the team the best way he can. I am not worried about points. I am not worried about getting a double-double. I just want to do whatever I can to help the team.

"No player wants to lose games. I'm enjoying this year. We fought, we fought and we battled. It's been a long process to get to this point. It has been enjoyable. I enjoy the coaching staff. I am having fun."

There is no doubt that gaining a postseason berth would be the best way for these two starters-turned-backups to wrap up their LSU careers.

"It's been a blessing to be at LSU," Bass said. "I hope we get into the postseason. "It was great my freshman year when we got to the postseason. Those guys taught me the ropes. Now, it would be great to finish off my senior year by making it to the postseason."


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