Mike Lewis is reporting over at the Tribune that LSU has been added to next year's men's basketball schedule. The two-game deal was finalized today and has the Tigers traveling to Salt Lake first for a game in January of 2009. Utah, then, will play LSU in Baton Rouge the following year.
This isn't the first time the two programs agreed to a similar deal. The Utes last played Louisiana State in the 2004-2005 season, the year they won 29-games and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. That ended with a dominate Utah victory over an LSU program that would reach the Final Four a year later. However, the Tigers have struggled since their Final Four run and in the process head coach John Brady was fired.
In an interesting twist, though, Brady was replaced by former Utah assistant Trent Johnson. Johnson had interviewed for the Utah job when Rick Majerus retired a few years ago, but ultimately turned them down and decided to take the then vacant Stanford job. While at Stanford, Johnson guided the Cardinal to 3 NCAA Tournaments, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance last year.
Yet for Johnson, LSU is a rebuidling project, as the team is coming off a 13-18 season and the prospects for next season aren't much better. But it's still an SEC team and this definitely bolsters the home schedule for Utah next year, one that includes Cal, Gonzaga and Oregon. It should be noted, though, when LSU came to Salt Lake as a decent team a few years back, the Utes struggled to fill the Huntsman Center. Hopefully that changes next season.