BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Ticker) -- Eighth-seeded Louisiana State heads into the NCAA Tournament with plenty of momentum and takes on No. 9 Purdue on Friday afternoon in the first round of the South Region.
LSU (21-10) has won seven of its last eight games to earn a second trip to the NCAA Tournament in four years. The Tigers struggled to a 1-6 Southeastern Conference record in early February before righting themselves and winning seven of their last nine league games.
Power forward Ronald Dupree leads LSU in scoring at 16.0 points per game and played well during a recent seven-game winning steak, averaging nearly 19 points and eight rebounds in that span. He has nine double-doubles this season.
Although LSU is playing well now, the highlight of its season came when it posted a 66-65 victory over Arizona on December 21. Reserve guard Antonio Hudson scored 20 points and Jaime Lloreda added 19 and 13 rebounds for the Tigers.
Purdue (18-10) stumbled down the stretch but still managed to receive its first NCAA Tournament in three years. The Boilermakers lost six of their final nine games.
Purdue is hoping that junior guard Kenneth Lowe will be healthy to play major minutes. Lowe missed three straight games with a dislocated shoulder but returned for last week's Big Ten Conference tournament and played well in 14 minutes off the bench - his second lowest total of the season.
Shooting guard Willie Deane is averaging 18.2 points per game and earned first team All-Big Ten honors. He has topped the 20-point mark 22 times this season, including a career-high 36-point outburst at Michigan on March 8.
Purdue coach Gene Keady has won seven straight first-round games since losing to Rhode Island in 1993.
LSU and Purdue have met once before, with the Tigers holding on for a 94-87 double-overtime victory in the first round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament.
The winner will face Texas or North Carolina-Asheville in Sunday's second round.